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tv   U.S. Senate  CSPAN  May 16, 2012 12:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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our deficit since we were last in balance. look at mandatory programs. mandatory programs, obviously medicare and programs like that have seen an increase of about 30%. 30%, because yesterday 10,000 americans reached the age of 65. today, 10,000 more. and tomorrow, 10,000 more. and for the next 189 years --, 18 years, 10,000 a day. boomers have arrived and after paying into social security, medicare for a lifetime, they walk up to the window and say now it's my turn. understandable. so the demographics have been growing of those who are covered by these mandatory programs, and the costs have been growing right along with it, 30% increase. now look at revenues. compared to when we were last in balance, revenues have gone down 13%. now, senator conrad and i were on the bowles-simpson deficit
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commission and 18 of us sat there for a year plus and listen to all this testimony about everything. and here is where we came down: he and i both voted for it. we believe that the premise of the simpson-bowles commission is the right premise. everything must be on the table. everything. what do you mean by everything? spending cuts must be on the table, both in the defense side and the nondefense side. in addition to that, we have to put the entitlement programs on the table. my friends, we can't ignore this conversation. we're, what, 11 years, 12e years away from medicare going bankrupt. we've got to have a serious conversation about this. and we have to look seriously at the question of revenue. we -- we cannot ignore the fact that we have seen a decline of the revenue coming into the federal government since we last had our budget in balance. and so we have to put all that on the table. and i add in other part that
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fits right into the revenue conversation, the tax code. this is not holy writ. the tax code is a compilation of laws passed over a long period of time that take about $1.2 trillion out of the treasury every year for deductions and credits and exclusions and special treatment treatment -- and special treatment. they asked us in one of these meetings on the tax code, what do you think is the most expensive provision in the tax code, takes the most money out of the treasury? and i said, mortgage interest, for sure. wrong. the most expensive is the employers' exclusion of health insurance premiums. so imagine when we get into the debate about tax reform and the first item subpoena the biggest item up -- item up is the biggest item up, employers' exclusion of health insurance premiums, imagine that conversation. if we say your employer can no longer take the full deduction, what does it mean to you as an employee, in terms of your out-of-pocket expense, in terms of your health insurance coverage?
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so i'm not going to suggest tax reform is an easy exercise. it's hard. but it has to be part of the conversation here. so here's where we come down. we're having an exercise today which is not invaluable -- i mean, i shouldn't say not worthless, it is important. it is an exercise in discussing the budget. what senator conrad has spelled out are different visions of things. what you find coming from the other side of the aisle, primarily talk about more tax cuts, particularly to higher-income people in the belief that that's how you spark an economy and get it to go. i disagree with the premise. i think the way this economy moves forward is when working families and middle-income families have more spending power. i don't believe you can give more money to the richest people in america and expect the economy to take off. also, you'll find that many of the entitlement programs, which now have become critical safety net programs, are victims of the budget resolutions that come to the floor.
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i cannot imagine what life would be like for 40 million americans on social security with a 40%, 39% cut -- is that what senator paul suggests? -- 39% cut in social security benefits. too many of these people are living on their social security checks and barely getting by. a 39% cut is cruel and unrealistic. i don't think it's going anywhere. and the motion from these others that we can just keep cutting taxes for the highest-income categories, let me tell you, you'll never balance the budget doing that. never. and if we don't balance the budget, we can jeopardize our economic recovery. we have a cliff that we're going to face on december 31. it's a big deal i can't remember a time when i've been in the house and senate when so many things are going to happen on one day. but on december 31, all of the bush tax cuts expire on the highest income levels as well as explore middle-income levels. i think the 10% tax rate goes away, for example. the child tax credit is cut in half.
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all of these things mean more taxes for every american paying into income tax. secondly, we are going to see the end of the payroll tax cut, the 2% cut that we've had for two years the president put in place. i could go through the litany. the bottom line is this, we need to start that honest conversation about the deficit now and we need to put something on the table ready to be discussed. the group of eight -- there are four democrats and four republicans -- have been meeting a long, long time. we're trying to put together a a -- a bill, something that actually could become law. i don't think it's the last word but it may be the first word in the debate. and if we can't get anything done before the election, let us hope that the day after the election we can put this on the table and say, here is our starting point, let's solve the problem on a bipartisan basis, put everything on the table, do it in a thoughtful, balanced way. i think that's what the american people are looking for, they really are. they are beyond the charades of
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oh, this won't touch me, let's go hit somebody else. i think everybody realizes we're in the soup together. but if we come out of this together, think about where we'll be. as other nations around the world are struggling to survive economically -- i can go g through the list in europe but i know it will -- we don't want to put ourselves even close to that position. the debt ceiling -- that expires december 31 or soon thereafter, and if we do not renew the debt ceiling, america will have defaulted on its debt for the first time in history that. is totally irresponsible. it is an invitation for downgrading of our credit rating and upgrading of the interest rates we pay and upgrading of the deficit we owe. i hope that the statements made by the house speaker in the last couple days don't reflect the position of his party when it comes to the debt ceiling. that would be a totally irresponsible act in terms of our economy. i'll be joining senator conrad today in voting against the budget resolutions that come to the floor but i will say this. i am glad that we're having this
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conversation. we need to have more of it and we need to have a bipartisan effort, both parties working to make sure that we deal with the current spending in a responsible way and equally important, find a way to get past the cliff, the december 31st cliff, in a way that will build our economy and not take away from it. i yield the floor. mr. conrad: i thank the senator. i thank him for his leadership. i thank him for the extraordinary effort he's made to help get america back on track. i think thank him for having the courage to support bowles-simpson and the group of six that's now a group of eight and the hundreds of hours that he has spent in negotiations, good-faith negotiations to bring both sides together so we actually get a result. not the political charade that so often goes on around here but serious solutions to serious problems. senator wyden, a very valuable member of the senate budget committee, is here on the floor. no senator, i might say, has proposed more serious solutions
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to america's problems than senator wyden. and he's done it without the benefit of having a committee staff that he controls. he does it based on his own hard work and the work of his office staff. he has proposed major tax reform, major health care reform and he's done it in a bipartisan way. in many ways i think he's set an example for everybody in this chamber. senator wyden, how much time would you like? mr. wyden: oh, 12 minutes or thereabouts. mr. conrad: yeah. i want to give 12 minutes. mr. wyden: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, without turning this into a bouquet tossing contest, i just want you to know how much i've appreciated your leadership and i also want to make sure people understand the record. and that is that if the congress had passed the bipartisan proposal you put together on the budget -- it was the conrad-gregg proposal -- as i
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democrat, you joined republican judd gregg -- we could have forced in 2010 an actual effort to put together a comprehensive tax reform and spending agreement. as you know, we don't need to go over the history, some of the sponsors of the proposal weren't even willing to go along. but i think it's important that the country understand that we've got to do this in a bipartisan way, and had you and judd gregg prevailed in 2010, we could have forced an actual spending reductions and tax reform, bipartisan effort. and i sure wish we had proceeded with it. and as one who supported it, i still think that would have been preferable. mr. president, before being elected to the congress, for seven years i had the honor of serving senior citizens. i ran the senior citizens legal aid office.
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i served as the public advocate on our state's nursing home board. and i taught jairn willing to at at -- gerontology at several of our universities. what i enjoyed most was the personal contact i had with senior stins as a voluntary board member of our senior nutrition program. it's known as loaves and fishes. and through it, i could bring meals to seniors at their home on a number of occasions as part of the meals on wheels program. now, meals on wheels is one part of government that truly understands the connection between the heart and the head. it touches the haar because i saw -- it touches the heart because i saw when you bring a nutritious meal to seniors, you can spend time visiting with them at home and often they will tell you that you're the only visitor, the only visitor they will have during that day.
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and it causes you to use your head and a sharp pencil because you can see without meals on wheels, as sure as the night follows the day, some of those seniors are not going to be able to stay in the community and they will end up needing institutional services. and those services are more costly, and, of course, seniors will often be less happy with those kinds of institutional programs. and i bring up meals on wheels today, chairman conrad, because several of the proposals that are offered by colleagues on the other side of the aisle, they're not going to be bipartisan because they cut the part of the budget that funds meals on wheels substantially. in several instances, specifically through on research , between 17% and 59% in
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just the upcoming year. now, putting meals on wheels at risk like that just defies common sense. i've already indicated from a compassion standpoint alone it warrants support, but even if meals on wheels doesn't grab your heart the way it does for me, it certainly ought to get the attention of your head because it's the kind of program that lets seniors have more of what they want -- which is to be at home -- at less price to the taxpayers. so it just defies common sense to not be bipartisan in terms of approaching something like meals on wheels. and i think what is common sense is what you, chairman conrad, have touched on and other colleagues and that's tackling the big issues on a bipartisan
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way. and certainly when it comes to medicare, that's what's needed. and i would only say, having worked in, you know, this area, we ought to start with the fact that we're looking at -- and i'm not the first to describe this -- a demographic tsunami. we are going to have, colleagues, for the next 20 years 10,000 seniors turning 65 every single day. 10,000 seniors turning 65 every single day. and we have made a commitment in this country fortunately to those senior citizens. it is called, colleagues, the medicare guarantee. that is the commitment we have made to older people. it is a commitment to good-quality, affordable health care. and if nothing is done, absolutely nothing is done, it is a commitment at risk.
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if nothing is done, the medicare guarantee is in peril. and my own sense is that medicare, because it's already facing cuts with sequestration, as chairman conrad has pointed out, medicare, if nothing is done, will face a steady diet of benefit cuts and cost-shifting until we do not recognize the medicare guarantee as it stands today. that's unacceptable to me. it ought to be unacceptable to every member of the senate. and as chairman conrad has noted, medicare reform is going to have to be bipartisan. the reason i believe that is that if it's not, much like we saw with health care reform, if it's done just on a partisan vote, the side that loses, as soon as the ink is dry on the
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signature of the passed bill, the other side will move to undo it or repeal it or radically alter it. i say the medicare guarantee is too important for that. and that is why i, with other colleagues, with the help of the chairman, colleagues on both sides of the aisle, i've been working to get bipartisan medicare reform ready, teed up for enactment at the first possible opportunity. it's outlined on my web site, bipartisan options for reform, and i'm interested in working with every colleague here in the the -- in the senate to pursue it. here's what y -- here's what it's going to take. first and foremost it will take protecting the most vulnerable seniors, what are called the dual-eligibles, seniors who are eligible for both medicare and medicaid. the protections for those
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dual-eligibles must be ironclad. unfortunately, a number of the offerings that we're going to see from colleagues on the other side not only don't ensure ironclad protections for these vulnerable seniors, the dual-eligibles, but by block granting medicaid, they put at risk the most vulnerable seniors, the seniors who need nursing home care that's paid for by medicaid, and since medicaid is a federal-state program, by block granting it, you put at risk the most vulnerable seniors, and that's certainly not in line with what you'll see at my web site that outlines bipartisan approaches that democrats and republicans can come together on for medicare reform. the second part of medicare
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reform is to ensure that you protect traditional medicare. traditional medicare where the government pays doctors and other providers for services, as well as private-sector choices that have to offer at least as good coverage as traditional medicare. and by doing that, you force traditional medicare and the private choices to hold each other accountable. it's going to be pretty hard to protect traditional medicare and its purchasing power with some of what we're going to see later this afternoon that actually proposes to end traditional medicare within the space of two years. third, medicare reform -- and we went into this in a very good hearing that was held in chairman conrad's budget committee -- is going to require comprehensive consumer
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protection. and having been involved in this since the days when senior citizens when i come to visit them would bring out a shoe box full of health insurance policies, weren't worth the paper they were written on. it was a medigap scandal we finally fixed in 19906789 i've seen how these ripoff people try to rip off seniors. we were able to talk about comprehensive protections and specifically ensuring that any medicare reform would have to have a strong risk adjustment program so that if, for example, any network of health care providers or an insurer took mostly healthy people, their contribution from the government would be far less than the contribution that would be afforded for a program that took
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a greater number of older people with health challenges. so i bring this up only by way of saying, mr. president, i'm committed to bipartisan medicare reform. i think medicare is really a sacred ground. it can only be preserved and protected by ensuring that we take the steps i've just outlined, three or four of them here this afternoon, that ensures that we put seniors and their well-being before ideology and politics. now, this afternoon we're going to hear several alternatives offered by colleagues from the other side of the aisle that, in my view, doesn't do that doesn't meet that test. in effect we're going to be dealing with ideology rather than the kind of principles i've outlined here today that i think
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can win support from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, and people can see on my own web site have attracted the support of influential republican voices. so we've got a test to meet. it's a test that builds on a bipartisan approach it a program that's sacred, the medicare guarantee that if it's not -- i would ask unanimous consent for one additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: built around a medicare guarantee that must be protected and preserved. a number of the proposals we'll get from the other side this afternoon don't meet that test. but i just want colleagues to know that i'm committed to working with them to produce what america wants in this congress; that is, bipartisan medicare reform that ensures that this very special program prospers in the days ahead. we're up to it. we're up to it if we build on
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the bipartisan example that senator conrad started years ago with senator gregg. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. conrad: i thank the snomplet thesenator. i thank him for the extraordinary work he's done on the budget committee. i thank him for the extraordinary work he's done as an individual senator to propose bipartisan tax reform, bipartisan medicare reform, and the kind of thoughtful solutions that we so desperately need. i see senator lautenberg is he here. we're glad to have you. how much time would the senator like? mr. lautenberg: if i might ask recognition from the president that i am here and ask for recognize in addition and permission to move ahead with my statement. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. conrad: i'd just say to
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the senator, that senator alexander is scheduled to be here at 12:30 or thereabouts. so if the senator could consume about that amount of time, we'd make this all work. i thank the senator. mr. lautenberg: we'll give the senator a good reading. mr. conrad: thank you. the presiding officer: the senator from new jersey. mr. lautenberg: mr. president, one thing we know is that a budget isn't just a collection of numbers, it's an expression of principles and priorities and direction. while i have the floor, i will take a moment to say to our friend and colleague from north dakota, who's been one of the strongest chiefs of the budget committee -- i sat on the budget committee for a long time -- and i think it's fair to say, republican or democrat, the
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senator from north dakota, senator conrad, deserves the thanks and respect from everybody here for the detail, for the arduous task that he followed to make sure that the budgets were clear. and no matter how often the challenges came, senator conrad would stand up and give the background and difficult the details that got him to a point of view. and we're grateful, and we'll certainly miss his presence here. mr. president, the budget the republicans have comes forward that confirms their true priorities. i had a good business career, mr. president, before coming to the senate, and i remember
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during the second world war we raised taxes on high incomes, on excess profits, because the country needed the revenues, they needed to make investments. and the budget that the republicans put forward today again confirms their true priorities. what are they, mr. president? they really are pushing, working hard to make sure that people who make millions can get tax breaks. it's a little hard to understand why it is that with the shortages that we have and being able to invest in important programs that we're worried about those who make more than $1 million a year. i've had a good business career,
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mr. president, and i want to make sure our country is strong, and i want to make sure my contribution is included among those who should be paying. what they don't seem to care about in their budgeting -- seniors, children, middle-class americans. at a time when our economy is fighting against strong head winds and too many americans are out of work, the republicans are offering the same, old prescriptions -- tax cuts for the rich and austerity for everyone else. now, i've seen this country of ours through adversity many times, and i've seen it come out stronger on the other side. but our recoveries have never been spurred by starving the middle class while giving tax breaks to the wealthy. prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy few.
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prosperity has always grown up from a broad middle class. you can't build a building starting with a chimney, and you can't build a society's strength by starting from the top. it has to have a foundation at the bottom that has strength and has the ability to support the needs of our total society. but a strong middle class depends on a first-rate educational system. and forgive the personal annotation here for a moment more, when i got out of the army, i was a high school graduate. i enlisted when i was 18. and i was lucky. i was able to get an education paid for -- paid for -- by the government. i was one of eight million soldiers, service people, who
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got their education paid for by virtue of the fact that they served in the military. as a result, half of those who were in uniform -- 16 million -- eight million of them got a college education. and i can tell you, mr. president, that it enabled me, working with two colleagues, to start a company that the three of us founded, a company that took years and years to build, slowly and energetically it began to develop. today that company is the company that produces the labor statistics every month for the country -- for the worldwide knowledge of what's happening with working people, what the wages are, what the employment is like.
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a.d.p. -- that's the company. we have 50,000 employees now, 50,000 employees. three poor boys. nothing going for them except the willingness to work hard. we determined that that was the greatest generation. why? why? because the education was given to so many who could learn but didn't have the ability to get to college. what we need is a society with affordable and accessible health care, and a tax system where everyone pays their fair share. the republican budgets include vicious cuts to the middle class. just look at what they do to education. it slashes funding for education by $19 billion. now when we desperately need the
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skills and knowledge that education brings and the opportunity for invention and creation, take away $19 billion. that's not going to help us get out of the hole that we're in. the ryan budget would cut this -- cut the education -- that's the budget coming over from the house, ac as i pointed out to y, $19 billion. now, they don't want you to see the specific programs that they cut. but let's look at the devastating consequences, if their cuts were distributed evenly. i don't know whether head start is a familiar operation in our country, but it's one of the most valuable. there are, i believe, about two million children who are on the program. and look at this face of the
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child, looking through a narrow prism. there are 200,000 of these children that would be told to stay home. there's no room for you. we can't afford to pay for you. so the fact that you're learning and you're learning -- what the children -- i went recently to a head start school in new jersey, and i met the children. and i'm such a professional grandfather that all little kids look beautiful to me. and i met the children. and what they were learning was that learning is fun. that words mean something, pictures mean something. and they were prepared when they got to kindergarten or first grade, they were prepared to say learning is good. i met a child there, they lined up to greet me, and this is the
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school that is bilingual, and i said what is your name? the little boy standing in front of me said my name is juliop. i put my hand out to shake his hand and he pushed it aside and instead he wrapped his arms around my legs and gave me a hug and all the little kids that followed thought he was the leader so they all gave me hugs. it was one of the best days that i've had, to see what happens when you treat these little kids to an opportunity to learn. imagine, slashing funding for a program that will help children learn how to learn. these cuts are shortsighted. they're cruel. ten million college students could see their pell grants cut by more than a thousand dollars in 2014. very painful. with less support and rising costs for higher education, young people would be forced to take on more debt in order to
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attend college because we see college tuitions going up rapidly across the country. the republican budgets address student debt, too. they would let the interest rate on the new student loans double up, increase by twice. it's an outrage. why are republicans putting obstacles in front of young people seeking an education? i never would have been able to attend, as i said, columbia university without that government help for me and the services that a.d.p. provides. it enabled me to cofound one of america's most successful companies, and the investment in this country that we made when we came home from world war ii helped to create the momentum and the direction for this country and decades of prosperity. but instead of offering a helping hand to this generation of students, the republican
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proposal closed the door in their face. government investments in science, technology, and medical research, cut by more than $100 billion over the next ten years. medical research funding alone could take a hit of nearly $6 billion by 2014. what does that do, mr. president? it delays research on new diseases, on new treatments, rather, for diseases like cancer, childhood asthma and juvenile diabetes. imagine, telling a parent of a sick child that we just couldn't help find the money to help him get back with his friends out in the play yard or the schoolroom. going to school on a regular basis. is that where america wants to be? mr. president, right now we're
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finding across the country that there is a greater likelihood that autism will enter into a family's difficulties -- difficulties with a child being born with autism. how can we say no when we see just in my state alone that one out of 59 male children is born autistic? that's a plague. that's a terrible, terrible position, and that we want to talk about cutting back on health care -- on health research. the republican budget, instead of helping seniors retire with dignity, republicans have proposed to end medicare as we know it, giving seniors a voucher instead of guaranteed care. if that vouch he can't cover the cost of needed medical services, republicans say hey,
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too bad, you're on your own. we've heard comments from them saying, well, so what if you're poor, it doesn't matter. i look at this chart, we say medicare as we know it gets cut, to provide tax cuts for the wealthy, they want to say to people who need the care, who are fortunate enough now under present conditions to be able to have long-term care with a disease that is long care, terminal. the republican plan would also cut medicaid. now, medicaid is a program for those less able to provide for themselves because of low income. or no income. the republican plans would also want to cut that by more than $800 billion over ten years.
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medicaid provides vital resources like pregnancy services for expectant mothers and nursing home care for seniors. we created medicare and medicaid because it was decided in this country as a society that we have to be there for seniors and the poor when they get sick. but now the republicans are proposing to break that promise. they seem to do it without shame. republicans aren't even exempting the hungry from their cuts. they would eliminate food stamps for up to ten million americans over the next decade. in their obsession with us austerity they cut through far more than the fat in the budget. they cut into the bone. now, many on the other side -- and i don't say all. a lot of people on the other side are good people, concerned
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about their constituents, concerned about them, but many on that side say balancing the budget is the mission, the only mission, and in order to do it they want to make sure that that includes a high priority for tax breaks for the millions -- for the millionaires. we could reduce our deficit if we required the wealthiest among us to pay at least the same tax rate as middle-class americans on all of their income. but instead the republican budget would give millionaires an average tax cut of almost $400,000 a year. their plan shreds the safety net for seniors and the poor while padding the mattress for the rich. and i ask my colleagues, please get your priorities straight. america needs your help across the board. your families, your neighbors, your state all need your help. millionaires don't need more tax cuts, and they certainly shouldn't get them at the
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expense of our seniors, children, and the middle class. with that i yield the floor. mr. conrad: i thank the senator. senator alexander is next. i wonder if we could enter into a quick time agreement to get the next senators slotted. that might help us manage the floor, i'd say to my colleague, senator sessions. mr. sessions: right. i believe senator toomey is here and will be prepared to go next after senator alexander --, mr. conrad: we had senator reed slot net between. mr. alexander, how much time would you like? mr. alexander: senator coons and i were hoping to introduce a piece of legislation on another matter and talk about it. i think given the focus on the budget here i'm going to suggest to senator coons that we -- who will be coming here at 12:45 we
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just mention our bill. if he could have time to do that, and then we stay focused on the budget and we'll talk about the other matter tomorrow. what i'd like to do if i may suggest, is ask that i have five minutes to speak on the budget, and maybe five minutes to speak on the other matter for senator coons to be recognized for five minutes, and that would take all of the time that i would ask for. mr. conrad: the problem is we're oversubscribed by that -- we now are -- difficult to -- we've not been yielding to things that weren't just budget-related i'd say to the senator. i wonder if it would be agreeable if the senator would take five minutes on the budget, we come back to senator reed, if he could take five minutes on the budget and then we go to senator toomey for 15
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minutes on the budget because he has a substantive budget alternative that deserves additional time. mr. alexander: mr. president, i think that's a reasonable request and i wonder if i might ask on behalf of senator coons if he should come to the floor he should be recognized for one minute to simply stand up and say he was planning to do this but we'll defer our intruks until tomorrow due to the budget discussion. mr. conrad: i ask unanimous consent that senator alexander be recognized for five minutes on the budget, senator reed of rhode island for five minutes on the budget, then senator toomey for 15 minutes on the budget, and if senator coons comes after that point that he be recognized for a minute on a separate matter, and then we come back to senator whitehouse for eight minutes. if we could lock those in, i think that would help all members. the presiding officer: is there
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objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. am i now recognized for five minutes? the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee is recognized for five minutes. mr. alexander: please let me know when 30 seconds is remaining. the presiding officer: i will. mr. alexander: senator coons and i have been working on legislation that many senators support. it pins a green card on the lapel of any foreign student involved in science, engineering, technology, graduate programs who gets a degree and who wants to stay in the united states and work, and then go home -- what we would like for them to do instead of going home to create the next google in india or china or some other country, we'd like them to stay here and create it here. and it has broad brod support, it's a recommendation -- broad support, it has the
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recommendation of the america competes act which i worked on in 2005 and 2007, but i want to salute senator coons for his leadership on this and recognize it and now i'll turn to the budget with my remaining time. federal reserve chairman alan greenspan recently said the worst mistake president obama made was not embracing his own fiscal commission's recommendation to reduce our debt by $4 trillion over the next ten years. today, our national debt is more than $15.6 trillion, nearly $1.9 trillion higher than it was when the fiscal commission released its recommendations and $6.4 trillion higher than when president obama was sworn in. in january 2013 the first thing the next president will have to do is to ask the congress to increase the debt ceiling. the fundamental problem is that washington doesn't know how to balance its checkbook. the president has proposed a budget that raises taxes by $1.9 trillion over the next ten
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years and still spends more than it takes in every year instead of endorsing the fiscal commission's recommendations or any other plan to address our nation's fiscal crisis. according to the congressional budget office under the president's budget interest on our debt will triple over the next ten years and by 2022 we'll be spending more in interest than we spend on national defense. this is, mr. president, an irresponsible proposal, and instead of playing politics we should be working together on a plan to address the debt which is the most urgent problem facing our country and according to the chairman of the joint chiefs, the biggest threat to our national security. the simpsons-bowles fiscal commission plan, the domenici-rivlin plan, the gang of six proposal offer bipartisan bliewnts for -- blueprints for how to address it. it would restructure entitlement teng sperng. entitlement spending the the
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main source of our dangerous federal debt. do those reforms so seniors can count on medicare and social security and taxpayers can afford them. mandatory entitlement spending which is 58% of the federal budget is growing at nearly three times inflation and bankrupting our country. discretionary spending which funds our national defense, our highways, our national, a and parks and national laboratories is only 36% of the federal budget and is growing at the rate of inflation. focusing our budget cutting on discretionary spending is just a way for congress to use the president's words, to kick the can down the road. the real work is reducing the growth of mandatory spending. although the senate's not debating its own budget resolution going 113 dates without passing a budget, we're gate dwaitding several proposals, i do support the house-passed budget because it a serious budget bj to cut
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out-of-control spending and solve our fiscal crisis. i will support the proposal offered by senator toomey. even though it cuts nondefense discretionary spending to 2006 levels, which i believe is too low, it reforms mandatory five-minute spending, it closes tax loopholes, lowers tax rates, save medicare for future generations. senator senator toomey and i have also discussed the possibility of allowing states to have the option of choosing per-capita caps on their average medicaid expenditures per beneficiary as an alternative to traditional block grants and i'm encouraged by these discussions. so, mr. president, last august i supported the budget control act because it was an opportunity to take an important step in the right direction. the house-passed budget and the budget proposed by senator -- the presiding officer: the senator has 30 more seconds. mr. alexander: thank you very much, mr. chairman. the house-passed budget and the budget proposed by senator toomey are opportunities to make
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the next step after the budget control act and i look forward to working with them to adopt a responsible budget that grows the economy and reduces our debt. i thank the president. i yield the floor. mr. reed: mr. president, in 46 days -- the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed: thank you, mr. president. in 46 days, the interest rate on student loans will be doubled, and zeroing in on these budgets that are before us, all of them seem to support the essence of the ryan budget which is to allow this to happen. in fact, the ryan budget in the house not only allowed a doubling of student interest rates, it also would eliminate the in-school interest subsidy for student loans, putting middle-class families at a particularly severe disadvantage. we have 46 days to limit this increase on the interest charges to middle-income families and we've got to act. now, we have seen denial, delay,
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disruption. we haven't seen cooperation that we need to help these families throughout this country. the budget before us not only allows this interest rate to double but also through its tax policy favors the wealthiest and not those that are struggling in the middle to just simply get ahead or simply stay where they are. one of the other interesting aspects of the proposal is that, as you look at this student rate interest doubling, my colleagues on the other side say well, we'll do it, we're for it. but again, ask yourself, if they're for it, why are they voting for budgets -- several budgets today -- that would, i fact, support the doubling? it seems to be an incongruity i can't understand. in addition to that, it seems to say if we're going to go ahead and double this rate, let's pay for it through the prevention fund. which i think over time, for
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health care it's not only going to help families across this country but it's going to ghain we all say we have to, bend that cost curve for health care. instead of i think a debate about how do we pay for this in a responsible way -- and we're certainly open to proposals if they have them other than this prevention fund, which is i think a non-starter -- they have suggested that our proposal, which is to close an egregious loophole in the tax code, is somehow a tax increase or somehow it doesn't do the job. but politifact, which is an objective body that looks at these various charges, has evaluated one claim that, in fact, our offset is a tax increase. here's what they say. "actually, the bill changes tax rules only for s-corporations and only on professionals like lawyers and accountants who could be taking advantage of the tax code to avoid paying payroll taxes. the democrats took the additional step of saying the rule change would only apply to
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individuals who report more than $200,000 in income. the bill's intent" -- and i'm continuing to quote -- "was to close the loophole on people who are avoiding payroll taxes, taxes that they're supposed to pay anyway." it goes on to say -- quote -- " the republican criticism gives the impression that all kinds of mom-and-pop operations might be subject to new additional taxes when actually the bill is aimed squarely at high-income professionals who are taking advantage of a loophole." the claim was rated by this organization as false. we are closing a loophole that benefits the wealthy and some of the most powerful interests in this country in order to allow middle-income families to send their children to school. i can't think of anything more sensible, anything more fair, anything that has to be done. and i'll just return to the final point about these budgets. as i read them, they, by and large, echo the ryan budget
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which is to say double the interest rate on students, do other things that will harm middle-income and middle-class people all to benefit the wealth east through additional tax cuts. that's not good fiscal policy. it's not good educational policy. it's not good policy for growth for this country, because we have to invest in education. and it's not fair. and i would hope we'll reject them. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware. mr. coons: thank you, mr. president. i rise to join my colleague, senator alexander, in briefly making reference to a bill which we introduce today and which we will speak about in more detail on the floor tomorrow. the senate is at the moment engaged in an important and a purposeful debate on the budget and i support chairman conrad and his leadership of our budget committee and we will cast a series of important and difficult votes on budget matters later today. but i take just one minute, if i can, to say that at a time when there is not enough bipartisanship, i am grateful to senator alexander for his
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leadership and for working with me on an issue that i hope will move forward the debate about how we make the promise and the opportunity of america open to more real job creators. the record shows that a significant number of the most innovative and fastest-growing companies in america were founded by immigrants. immigrants have long contributed significantly to our culture, to our strength, to our competitiveness. and this particular bill, which opens up a new class of visa for students from outside the united states who would pursue masters or doctoral programs in stem, is, i think, an important step forward. there's many other issues in immigration we need to resolve. there's many other elements we need to move forward, but i'm grateful for the charns to work -- chance to work with senator alexander on this bill and will address it further tomorrow. thank you, mr. president, for that. and with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from pennsylvania. mr. toomey: thank you, mr. president. i rise to speak on the budget resolution that i've introduced and on which we will have a vote, at least on a motion to proceed, later today.
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but i want to start with underscoring the magnitude of the challenge that we face. we have a full-blown crisis that awaits us. it could arrive at any moment virtually if we don't change the course we're on. the deficit that we have in 2012, $1.3 trillion, fourth consecutive year with the deficit of over a trillion dollars. we are now routinely running deficits that are 7%, 8%, 9% of g.d.p. and, of course, every year that you run a deficit, the excess of spending over the tax revenue has to be funded by more borrowing. and so we have the mounting dealt -- mounting debt that is now really at stunning levels for much of the post-war era, after the big repayment of debt after world war ii, the national debt fluctuated somewhere around 40% of our total economic output. today our total -- our actual
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debt held by the public is 73%. of our total economic output. and that's just the publicly-held debt. that does not include the liabilities within the government which, if you add that, it's up to 100% of our total economic output. mr. president, this has never ended well for a company -- a county that has chosen to run up massive deficits and massive debt. and i would argue that we are seeing exactly how this typically plays out, we're seeing it across the atlantic in europe, where countries are a little further down this road than we are today, having run big structural deficits for longer than we have and having accumulated more debt as a percentage of g.d.p. than we have thus far, we see what's happening. especially in countries like greece, where it's particularly acute. other countries, especially on the periphery of europe, that arguably are not far behind. this is completely unsustainable. and what i think we're witnessing today on the senate floor is that there is one party
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in this chamber that is addressing the problem. there's one party that is proposing very specific solutions. and it's perfectly reasonable to have objections and disagreement with any number of elements in my budget resolution or senator paul's or senator lee's or the ryan budget. but what i don't understand is how the majority party, the party that's actually in control of this chamber, can think that it's okay not to have an alternative, not to offer a vision, not to offer a solution to the biggest problem we face as a nation and one that is imminent, one that if left unaddressed certainly will result in a crisis. it's just a question of when. i think this is an unacceptable abdication of responsibility. but that's where we are. i would argue that what got us into this problem is too much spending. if you -- you look at the numbers, they -- they speak volumes. since 2000, federal spending has more than doubled.
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we took spending which was as recently as 2007 only a little over 19% of our total economic output, grew that to 24% of our economic output. that's a tremendous surge not just in the absolute dollars of spending but in the relative size of spending relative to our economy. president obama's budget is not a serious attempt to deal with this. it was put on the floor of the house of representatives and got precisely zero votes. it failed by 414-0, meaning not a single democrat wanted to vote for the president's proposal. i can understand why. the president's proposal is to increase spending, increase taxes and increase debt. the president's proposal claims to level off debt as a percentage of g.d.p. for a brief time butter then it starts to grow again. and the reason is that the president absolutely refuses to offer a budget resolution that
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solves this problem is because he's -- he refuses to deal with the real underlying driver of this which we all know are the big entitlement programs. the current structure of these programs is just unsustainable. and if anyone doubts it, look at what c.b.o. has shown us and has told us. by 2021, just nine years from now, if you take three categories of federal spending spending -- the social security program, interest on our debt and health care, health care entitlements -- those three things combined will consume almost 90% of all the revenue we can realistically hope to collect. if the -- if the last several decades are any indication of what we're going to collect. how could it possibly be that we would continue down this path where those three categories are going to consumer virtually 9 entire budget? i would also observe, it's a simple matter of arithmetic that no significant federal government program can grow faster than the economy for very long, because everything has to
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be paid for by the economy. in fact, it has to be paid for by some fraction of the economy. and if you have a big program that's consistently growing much faster than the economy, well, it will consume everything. and then these programs will collapse. and then what are we going to do? rather than waiting for that day to come, some of us are proposing specific solutions for this problem. medicare is growing must faster than the economy. medicaid is growing arguably at least two times as fast as the economy. other mandatory health care programs, if president obama gets his way, will grow even faster than that. this is all completely unsustainable and we're going to fix this problem, the question is whether we fix it while we have this window of time when we're still able to borrow the massive sums that we're routinely borrowing, or will we wait until we have a full-blown crisis, the bond markets husband is us down and then we have
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sudden, draconian and really very disruptive and painful decisions to make? i would rather do this while we have this moment. change the course we're on and establish a sustainable fiscal path. so i've submitted a budget for the second consecutive year that puts us on a path to balance. my budget balances within the ten-year historical window of budget resolutions. it actually balances in the eighth year and runs a very modest budget surplus in the ninth year. i do that in part by reducing the toatlez level of spending -- total level of spending relative to g.d.p. as compared to the alternative budgets. specifically, the president's alternative or c.b.o.'s. i can't compare it to the senate democrat alternative budget because that doesn't exist. we have no idea what the senate democrat proposal is. but i've got one and so i'll elaborate on that a little bit. my proposal is that we get spending down to about 18.3% of g.d.p. that is about the same level of
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revenue has historically been and thereby brings our budget into balance. now, some of my colleagues have suggested that there are draconian spending cuts that get us here. but let me be very specific about what spending cuts are necessary to achieve this. in 2013, spending in my budget is 2.9% below what it is in 2012, which means the federal government will spend, under my budget, it would spend 97.1% of everything it spent the previous year. people can decide whether that constitutes draconian cuts. now, here the amazing thing. after that, on average over the ten-year window, my budget calls for federal spending to increases. and, in fact, to increase at about a rate of about 3% per year. nominally. see, this is my point. this is an eminently solvable problem. all we need to do is cut off some of the excess, restructure certain programs and allow
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the -- the government spend can go grow, it just can't grow quite as rapidly as it's currently projected to do. and if we get that under control, we can put ourselves on a sustainable path. another part of this is to have policies that maximize economic growth. i mean, that's an important goal in and of itself but it's also the path to restoring balance because stronger growth generates more revenue for the treasury. well, my budget could do that without raising taxes. what i would do is have pro-growth tax reform that's comparable in spirit and in the direction it goes to all of the bipartisan commissions that have looked at this, whether it's simpson-bowles or rivlin-domenici or any of the others. i -- i know there is broad bipartisan consensus on the -- the principle that we'd have stronger economic growth if we simplified the code, broaden the base on which we apply taxes and then apply those taxes but at lower marginal rates.
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that's what my budget calls for. it really shouldn't be all that controversial to move in this direction of tax simplifying, lowering marginal rates and offsetting the reduced revenue by reducing the value of loopholes and write-offs. there are a couple of areas that i think are important areas where there is bipartisan support for elements within my budget. one is the president of the united states suggested in his budget that very wealthy senior citizens contribute a little bit more for the medicare benefits that they obtain. some means-testing already occurs within medicare, but i happen to agree with the president that it's reasonable, especially under these circumstances, to ask the wealthiest members of our society to pay a little more for the benefits they're getting from the government. so my budget adopts the president's proposal of expanding means-testing, expanding the contribution we'd
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ask from the wealthiest americans for their medicare benefits. i also include in my budget a long-term reform for medicare that makes medicare viable. now, this has been much-maligned, despite the fact that one of our democratic senate clerks senator wyden, supports this approach as well. one of the things i want to emphasize is this is a different plan than what it was last year. last year there was a criticism that any premium support model that establishes the amount of money given to seniors to purchase health care at a fixed dollar amount was a flawed approach because what if health care costs rose more rapidly than that amount could afford pay for? that's valid concern. and so there is a different dynamic, a whole different mechanism in this proposal -- that's in the house-pass budget and in my budget -- and i think it is part of the reason why the democratic senator has embraced this and alice rivlin, a former senior member of the clinton
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administration has proposed this. because the side thatter you'd have idea -- the idea is that you'd have competition and you'd set the premium based on the second-lowest bid for the health care services we want to provide. thereby ensuring that a senior citizen would have enough money to purchase that plan. not only that but we go further and we include the traditional fee-for-service medicare system for which seniors are currently accustomed. we include that as one of the plans that would bid. so it is absolutely the case that any senior citizen that wanted to stay with the traditional fee-for-service medicare program could do that under the reform plans. now, i happen to believe that in an innovative marketplace there are going to be more attractive options, and i happen know that under this system, there are a lot of seniors -- my parents included -- who have to wait for every to see a -- forever to see a doctor. part of the problem is because of this dysfunctional system we have now. it is already costing us access and quality in health care. so i think this reform will make
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medicare a better program for the people who need it. and, yeah, we'll have the very wealthy to pay a little more for it. i think that's reasonable. those seniors who want to stay in traditional medicare, they could do that, too. i think this makes all the sense in the world. in the process you can put it on a sustainable path. and it has some bipartisan support. but, mr. president, we -- we don't really know the extent of that because our democratic colleagues refuse to put a budget, refuse to mark up a budget in committee, present one on the senate floor, and what i'm hoping -- and i guess what i'll close with is this request, and that is vote for the moas motion t-- votefor the motion t. let's get on my budget. and let's have a debate on this and lathe see where people are. i don't know how we're ever going to reach the compromise that we're going to need to reach to put us on a sustainable path if one party is consistently putting out a whole lanrange of ideas an ideas and r
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party refuses. how do you negotiate with somebody who doesn't have a position? how do you have that discussion? i don't know how many of my democratic colleagues agree with the president of the united states and my own thought that we ought to ask wealthy seniors to pay a little bit more for their medicare benefits, but if we g got on the bill, we could find out where the consensus is. i just that i this is too big and too important an issue not to address. and so the way to address it is to vote "yes" on the motion to proceed, to get on a budget resolution, and then let's have that discussion, let's let the american people see it, let's take their ideas, let's take all the ideas we've got and let's see if we can make some progress. but there's an unambiguous fact that i want to underscoamplet there's one with party that is showing up at this debate. three republican senators who are proposing budget resolutions, comprehensive documents that address the entitlement reform we need, discretionary spending limits that we need, and the tax reform
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that will help grow this economy and generate the revenue that we need. we've done that. and as i say, it's perfectly fair and understandable and legitimate to criticize any aspect of any of that. but it's, i think, an obligation, especially of the majority party, to offer its vision, its view, its alternative. so, mr. president, i would urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this motion to proceed, allows to get on with addressing the single-most pressing problem facing our country today: restoring a fiscally viable path a lousallows us to have strong economic growth. mr. conrad: i thank the senator. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: senator whitehouse, i think we already allocated eight minutes to senator whitehouse, is that correct? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. conrad: it was part of an unanimous consent agreement so that we could manages the time
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o-- so that we could manage the time on the floor better. i would say to the senator, we have 60 minutes left on our side. they have, i this i, 100 minutes left on their side. so -- and we have seven senators left. so -- mr. whitehouse: it just about works from the math. mr. conrad: it works. i thank the senator. the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. whitehouse: thank you very much, mr. president. let me thank senator conrad for his leadership on this important issue. i would note for the record that with the conclusion of senator toomey's remarks, following senator reed's, i think for the first time in the history of the senate, we had back-to-back presentations by two separate senator graduates from lasalle academy in rhode island.
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but i did note in his remarks his references to the mag i mage of this chacialtion to the full-blown crisis that he perceives, that the completely unsustainable nature of our outward debt, to this being too big and too important not to address, and that this is the single-most pressing problem our country faces, all of which might lead one to conclude that this would be the most important thing that they would pursue. and yet we know it is less important to them to address our debt problem than it is to protect oil and gas subsidies for big oil at a time when their profits are unprecedented. it is less important than protecting tax loopholes that allow high-income individuals to incorporate themselves and avoid paying fica taxes. it is less important to them than protecting special tax
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rates that allow people making $100 million a year to pay a lower tax rate than a family making $i $100,000 a year. so it seems that when you actually look at practice, what their priorities are -- this isn't quite the priority that they claim. and i will agree that there are other priorities that we face as a country. this july, unless we move quickly, student loan interest rates will double. that will hurt our economy, that will hurt our growth, that will hit families across this country. we have brought forward a plan to keep those rates down, but our colleagues filibustered it. our nation's highway programs will expire next month, jeopardizing millions of jobs. we voted overwhelmingly on a bipartisan basis to reauthorize the highway bill and to move forward on it only to have the bipartisan senate highway bill
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stalled by house republicans. republicans may talk about jocks, but they are busily stalling the most important jobs bill that we have, and that stalling and that delay will cost jobs because of the summer building season in so many of our states. one thing that has not been urgent has been to pass a budget. why is that? well, it's because we already have one. this whole exercise today rests 0erestson a false premise and ts that we have no budget. last summer congress passed and the president signed into law the bipartisan budget control act which set binding discretionary spending levels for a decade and established enforceable budget levels for the current fiscal year and next, which our appropriations committees are now working under, republicans and democrats together. you won wouldn't know this listg
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to senate republicans. instead of focusing on real issues where real jobs are at stake, they are wasting a day of floor time on extremist tea party budgets. they also plan to force a vote on what they describe as the obama budget. i plan to vote against all of the motions to proceed for the simple reason that we already have a budget in place that we voted on and agreed to for next year. today's votes are nothing more than a republican attempt to promote a radical and unwelcome agenda of slashing middle-class programs while protecting and even enlarging tax giveaways for the yo ultra rich. let's make no mistake about what these proposals would do to middle-class families. the house-passed republican budget would start by cutting taxes for big corporations and the ultimate trar rich adding $4.6 trillion, adding $4.6 trillion to our national debt.
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to pay for these extra tax cuts, republicans would decimate programs on which regular american families at some point in their lives come to rely. they'd start by ending medicare as we know it, beginning for workers who retire in 2023, the house republican budget would make it a voucher system, which according to the nonpartisan congressional budget office will add an estimated $6,000 in annual out-of-pocket costs for each retiree by 2050. i don't know, but in rhode island the average annual social security benefit is about $13,600. that's hard to imagine how future seniors living on a fixed social security income will be able to maintain health care coverage with that kind of extra cost dropped on them individually. at the same time that they slash medicare, the house republican budget gives those making over $is millio$1 million, an averagt of over $150,000.
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if you're oacialtiond if you're going to need medicare one day, if you are a working family, what do you get in an end to medicare as we know it. if you're mawing over $1 million, what do you get? an average tax cut of over $150,000. those are not real priorities. for people that i recommend in rhode island. it doesn't stop there. it would repeal the affordable care act which would reopen the doughnut hole. the affordable care act has helped 15,000 rhode islanders save an average of $554 each last year just by closing the doughnut hole part way and soon all the way. people like olive whose husband fell into the doughnut hole last july received a dis count on their frugs and saved $2,400. under the house republican budget, they'd be stuck paying that full $2, 400 out-of-pocket cost to the big drug companies. the radical house budget would slash funding for pell grants
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and would increase interest on student loans. we've all heard people say here that they don't want to encourage the increase in student loans that we're facin . they are of course filibustering our effort while they say it. so they speak from two positions. the house budget requires almost $1 trillion in additional and unspecified cuts, and that will be draconian. senator paul's budget, which we may take up today, would also slash middle-class programs including social security. he includes an eventual 39% cut to social security benefits and would end medicare for all seniors in 2014. so if you want to put an end to medicare in 2014, the paul budget looks like a real great opportunity for you. but that's not what i think anybody really wants in this
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country. i think almost every american wants to see medicare strengthened and supported. mr. president, we should move on from this unnecessary budget messaging exercise and resume or work to keep student loan rates down and support good-paying highway jobs, things that are being delayed right now that we need action on. when we do turna real debate about deficit reduction, i hope my republican colleagues will unshackle themselves from the tea party and put forward a budget that does not put big oil subsidies ahead in priority of taking care of our real budget problem. they have got to get over putting the priority first of protecting big oil subsidies -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. whitehouse: and with that, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: and i thank him for his many contributions on the budget committee.
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i don't think there's been any stronger voice for fundamental health care reform along the lines of dealing with the payment system that we currently have that by most accounts is costing us hundreds of billions of dollars and not adding to the quality of health care. nobody has been a stronger voice on the budget committee or off the budget committee on that subject. i very much appreciate the senator's leadership. we have senator wicker is next. senator wicker, do you have an estimate of how much time you'd like to consume? mr. wicker: i've been told that i have ten minutes allocated, and issues probably less than that allocation. mr. conrad: very well. senator wicker. the presiding officer: the senator from mississippi is recognized. mr. wicker: thank you for recognizing me and i appreciate the time. i want to agree with my friend from rhode island to this extent. he said the debate today is
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based on a false premise. i agree with him in this respect: this is not a real debate about a budget resolution. these are show votes, mr. president. these are messaging votes that we will have today. you can argue all you want to that we have a budget that's in place that we passed last year. there's just no getting around to u.s.c. 631, which is the budget law of the united states of america passed back in 1974, and that budget law requires congress each year to pass a budget resolution. as a matter of fact, it says on or before april 15 of each year, congress completes action on a concurrent resolution on the budget. now the last time this senate did that was 2009. we missed that april 15 deadline in 2010. the leadership of this body
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missed that deadline in 2011. and they missed it again this year. it has been that long since this body, under the leadership of my friends across the aisle, have complied with the explicit terms of the federal statute and brought a budget to have full consideration on the floor. now what we'll have today is debate on five concepts. and i'm happy to vote for some of them and will certainly vote against others. but make no mistake about it, this is not the process called for by the federal statute. and it doesn't serve the law, doesn't comply with the law. it doesn't serve the purposes of advancing public policy in the united states of america. so we're long overdue for real budget debate that puts something in place. as i mentioned just a moment ago, we passed the three-year
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mark now. 1,100 days since the senate democrats fulfilled one of their basic obligations, as i mentioned, in federal statute. a recent column in "the washington times" pointed out that the ipad had not yet even been introduced when the last budget was passed on the floor of this senate. but since that time, in three years, federal spending has topped a staggering $10 trillion. every day our country's debt grows closer to $16 trillion. this is money that my generation will not be able to pay. we have our pages here on the floor, even their generation, mr. president, will not be able to pay off this $16 trillion in debt. it will be left to their children and grandchildren. annual deficits continue to soar, adding to that debt.
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over $1 trillion each year during president obama's time in office. even though the president promised in 2009 that he would cut the deficit in half during his first term, a promise that certainly has not been fulfilled. instead, his latest budget relies more on spending, new taxes, accounting gimmicks, and it leaves insolvent entitlement praplts -- programs without meaningful reform. i notice that the previous speaker, mr. president, stated that he would not be voting for president obama's budget proposal. i think it's because it's such a false and weak proposal. i would expect that the obama budget today would get the same response that it got on the floor of the senate during these messaging votes last year, when it failed to get a single vote. as i understand it, it failed to get a single vote in the house of representatives. not one republican or democrat in the house of representatives
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earlier this year was willing to step forward and embrace the obama budget proposal, and it got a big fat zero when that was put to a messaging vote in the house of representatives. so we're watching a disastrous trajectory. we need to change it now. families, businesses, and organizations in my home state of mississippi and in every state across the country know the importance of having a sensible budget and living within that budget. likewise, taxpayers deserve to see a blueprint of where their money is going and how much will be spent. washington must be held accountable. we heard talk on the other side of the aisle about priorities that our democratic friends would like to see enacted. the democratic majority in the budget committee needs to bring those priorities forward. they need to wrap them up in a budget resolution and bring them
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to the floor. that's one thing that we're not seeing today, is a proposal by the democratic majority. it only takes 51 votes to pass a budget. there's no two-thirds rule on a budget resolution. there's no filibuster on a budget resolution. my democratic colleagues, many of whom are dear friends of mine, have 53 members in this caucus. they've got the votes. we know that a budget is required every year, and yet with the 53-vote majority and with only 51 votes required, they do not bring a budget to the floor for us to consider so that we could know what their budget priorities are. there are plenty of excuses from across the aisle for not complying with a clear mandate, but there really is no excuse. it is inexcusable that the
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majority party in this chamber refuses to fulfill the statutory responsibility when the warning signs of fiscal calamity are at our doorstep. you know, it's no wonder, mr. president, that our popularity rating as a congress is down around 10% or 11%, when the federal statute explicitly requires us to do this each -- by april of each year and we do not do it. it's no wonder we're held in such low regard by the public. inaction ultimatelyily bequeaths a burden of debt to our children and grandchildren. we certainly cannot blame the inaction on an absence of ideas. as has been stated by my friend from rhode island, we have five proposals before us today. president obama's will probably get zero votes.
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the house republican blueprint will be considered. and budgets from senators lee, paul, and toomey. and yet the senate democrats regrettably stay on the sideline. they have the votes, but we do not have their proposal on the floor, one that they are willing to put forward and tell the american people that they own. my friend, the budget chairman, has suggested that the upcoming election stands in the way. in april he said -- quote -- "this is the wrong time to vote in committee. this is the wrong time to vote on the floor. i don't think we will be prepared to vote before the election." now i want to make it clear, i have the highest affection and regard for the chairman of the budget kph-fplt, but i do believe he's -- of the budget committee, but i do believe he's saying, mr. president, we have a job to do, we have a law to comply with, but we're not going to bring it up at this time
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because of political concerns. i think political concerns are keeping our friends on the other side from saying where they really stand on the budget issues. i think political concerns are keeping them from making the hard choices. i can imagine the american taxpayer would like to know when will be the right time for the senate to begin complying with federal law and the right time for a budget that takes fiscal responsibility seriously. they know that kicking the can down the road will not make the debt problem go away. i noticed recently our commander in chief told a russian leader that after the election he would have more flexibility on a national security issue. the issue of national military defense. he said, "i need to have some time, because after the election i'll have more flexibility.
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please pass that along to vladimir." i suppose my friends on the other side of the aisle believe they'll have more flexibility on spending issues and budget issues and taxation issues after the election. the truth is republicans and democrats have differences on a number of issues, but that should not deter a concentrated effort to hroert deficit and -- lower the deficit and curb runaway spending. i hope this week we can focus on constructive dialogue. i would have hoped we would have an honest process and do what is right and necessary to put this country's fiscal house back in order. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. carper: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from delaware is recognized. mr. carper: thank you. thank you, mr. president. if i just might -- mr. conrad: if i just might?
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if the senator could do his presentation in about eight minutes? we've got six speakers left, and we've got 50 minutes. mr. carper: i will be happy to try. thank you. listening to the presentation from my friend from mississippi, i am reminded of the words of harry truman. harry truman used to say the only thing that is new in the world is the history we forgot or never learned. i want to go back in history. i want to go back about 15 years, and we had gone from 1968 through 1997, never balanced a budget. all those years, almost 30 years. and president clinton said erskine bowles, his chief of staff, why don't you see if you can figure out and maybe negotiate a balanced budget deal with the republican house and republican senate. see what kind of deal you can get for us. er skin went out and negotiated, they came up with a deal. it led to not one, not two, but three balanced budgets by the end of that decade. interestingly enough, half of the deficit reduction was on the
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spending side. half of the deficit reduction was on the revenue side. fast forward to 2001, new president, present administration. as far as the eye can see not just balanced budgets, but plenty of black ink, surpluses for as far as the eye can see. eight years later, another change of the administration, new president handed over a $1 trillion deficit, the worse recession since the depression. this president when we tried to pass legislation to create a deficit commission a couple of years ago some republicans ended up not voting for t. the president used his executive powers to say we're going to have a deficit commission and who did he ask to head it up? erskine bowles and alan seupl sorpbgs former deficit hawk from
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wyoming. people went to work on a real deficit-reduction plan. 11 out of the 18 of them ended up voting for this kind of plan. not a 50-50 deal on deficit reduction, but $3 on the spending side for every $1 on the revenue side. $4 trillion to $5 trillion in deficit reduction over a ten-year period of time. that, my friend, we've seen a lot of different ideas. we've got a bunch of them here on the floor. the administration submitted their budget as well. frankly, none of them come close to being as good as bowles-simpson. alice rivlin has done good work, pete domenici, our former senator from new mexico, has done good work. bowles-simpson says we're going to raise $1 revenue for every dollar on the spending side. the grand compromise is democrats agree to an entitlement reform to make sure they are going to be around for our grandchildren and grandchildren. on the revenue side we reduce rates for the individual side
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and corporate side. we eliminate it by half the so-called tax expenditures in the tax code. tax credits, tax deductions, tax loopholes, tax breaks. get rid of about half of them. that, the bowles-simpson deficit commission plan enjoys the support of almost half the senate. almost half the senate. pretty much an equal number of democrats and republicans. when we get through this election -- we have a budget in place right now. we have a budget in place for 2012. we have a budget that's going to be effective in 2013. right now, we're seeing deficit reduction, $600 billion in defense spending implemented over a ten-year period of time. right now we're seeing a $600 billion reduction in domestic spending implemented over a ten-year period of time. if we don't come up with an agreement like the simpson-bowles at the end of this year, we'll see $600 billion more on the defense side, $600 billion on the nondefense side and some
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entitlement changes as well. a much better plan than doing that. even though that adds up to about $2 trillion worth of deficit reduction for this year and the coming fiscal year, a much better plan is a kind of comprehensive, balanced plan that we have been given by the deficit commission. my hope is at the end of the day when we have the opportunity, mr. president, we have the opportunity to debate here later this year, when the elections are behind us and people can actually turn around and say let's try to figure out the right thing to do and do it, this is the right thing to do. in the meantime, let's just not waste the next six, seven months, eight months. i would suggest to my colleagues to join the efforts, the bipartisan effort that includes people like tom coburn and myself and others. senator conrad and senator grassley and others, and to join us in going to work on a to-do list provided to us by g.a.o., the general accounting office. that to-do list is just full of ways to avoid wasting money. and it includes ways to save money by reducing improper
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payments that are down from $119 billion last year down to $115 billion this year. finally headed in the right direction. reducing fraud in medicare and medicaid. some very good stuff is being done there to help reduce the fraud losses. surplus property, we have all this surplus property, a lot of which we don't need. the idea is to go ahead and get rid of that. we have too many bad information technology projects, too many information processing centers. we're getting rid of a bunch of those that we don't need. there is actually some good work that is beginning to be done. we can do more and we ought to do more. the last thing i suggest we ought to do is consider making the president's rescission powers real. senator mccain and i and about 40-some, almost 45 democrats and republicans, have proposed that we make the president's rescission powers real. we know now the president can sign an appropriations bill under current law, send us a proposal to rescind or reduce spending within that appropriations bill that he has just signed into law, and wee
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don't even have to vote on the rescission. we don't have to take it up or look at it. for the most part, we don't. what john mccain and almost half of this senate, democrat and republican, have said is when a president signs an appropriations bill into law and sends it to us, he considers the rescission message as well, then we have to vote on it. we actually have to vote on it. it doesn't affect taxes. it's not a deal that works on -- that affects entitlement programs, but on appropriations. and we try this for four years. with the simple majority, we literally vote on the president's proposal where he doesn't get a simple majority in the senate, 51 votes or simple majority in the house, 218 votes, then it goes away, but at least we have to take the responsibility and be held accountable to vote it. the president would have some extra responsibility and i think opportunity to make for meaningful reductions. how am i doing in my time, mr. president? have i used my eight minutes? the presiding officer: the senator has 30 seconds left. mr. carper: all right.
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i want to close just to say to our friend, senator conrad, i know you as much as i favor bowles-simpson, and i just want to thank you for the work you're doing in bringing attention to it again and say this is still the best plan in the room. i think it's still the best plan out there. so the idea is when we get to the day, the week after the election, we'll be ready to move and to take it up and hopefully to embrace and endorse large parts of it. with that, i will yield back my time and thank you so much. mr. conrad: i thank the senator. i thank him for his leadership on these issues. nobody has been more serious about getting deficits and debt under control than the senator from delaware, senator carper. senator grassley, how much time would you like to use in your -- mr. grassley: eight minutes or a little bit less. mr. conrad: okay. senator grassley for ten minutes. that works out well. maybe we could enter into a
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quick unanimous consent request to lock in these next senators so people know who are waiting. mr. grassley: i am not prepared to speak for our side. mr. conrad: that's okay. we can do it. senator grassley for ten minutes. senator cardin, could you do eight? and senator crapo, would you -- could you do ten? okay. so i ask unanimous consent that senator grassley be recognized for ten minutes, followed by senator cardin for eight, followed by senator crapo for ten minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. grassley: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from iowa is recognized. mr. grassley: adopting a budget for the country is one of the most basic responsibilities and fundamental functions of the congress. the budget act of 1974 requires congress to adopt a budget by april 15 each year. it's a requirement that this senate majority has ignored time and again. in fact, the senate hasn't
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adopted a budget since april 29, 2009. more than three years have passed since the senate last adopted a budget. during that time, more than $4 trillion has been added to our nation's debt, and in president obama's presidency, we have added $5 trillion to the national debt. so we're in the midst of the fourth consecutive year of trillion-dollar deficits. all the while, the senate democratic majority has failed to propose a budget blueprint that would lay out their priorities for deficit reduction, economic growth and a path to balance. it's no wonder then our nation is driving towards a fiscal cliff of deficits and debt. there is no one in the democratic leadership willing to
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take hold of the wheel of this vehicle. in february, president obama released his budget, the president's 2013 budget would expand the scope of government by spending more money, increasing taxes on job creators and continue on the path of enormous debt and record -- enormous deficit and record debt. while president obama claims that his budget will create an america built to last, the only thing his budget builds, it seems like, are higher deficits and debt. a bigger and more intrusive government and economic decline for future generations. during the past 60 years, spending has averaged about 21% of g.d.p. over the ten-year window of president obama's budget,
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spending never gets below 22%. in dollar terms, spending goes up from the present $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion in the year 2022. so it's very clear president obama is built to spend. president obama's budget is also harmful to our fragile economy bus it would impose $1.9 trillion tax increase. maybe the president's per-person imposing this huge tax increase is an effort to reduce the nation's debt. unfortunately, that's not what he has planned in his budget. he wants to spend every dollar. his budget runs deficits totaling $6.4 trillion over the next ten years. debt held by the public increases from 74.2% of our
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economy today to 76.3% in 2022. and of course you need to remember that the historical average since world war ii has been around 43% of the economy. if people believe that president obama is putting us on a path to fiscal sustainability, i'd suggest that they look at the annual deficits over the next ten years. they never dropped below $575 billion and actually go up the end of his budget, rising to $704 billion in 2022. president obama's budget puts america on the course of deficits and debts as far as the eye can see into the future. the president also took a pass on proposing any real changes to our entitlement programs which are a real driver of future
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deficits and debt. again, he is absent from the discussion. he has no solution. he has chosen not to lead. but where is the leadership from the senate majority? where is their budget? why have they not prepared a budget in more than three years? the budget chairman has said repeatedly that we already have a budget in place for this year and even for next. the chairman and majority leader feel that the budget control act was a budget resolution. the budget control act is not a budget. president obama clearly agreed when he proposed his budget. house republicans and democrats alike agreed when they voted on seven budget resolutions authored by both republicans and democrats. the democrat leadership in the senate stands alone in their belief that the budget control act was a budget resolution.
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is it -- is it because they have no ideas on how to balance the budget, contain out-of-control spending, grow the economy or create jobs? if the democratic majority can muster the will to present their own budget, why don't they offer president obama's budget? i'm sure we'll hear the argument that the resolution on our side is offering is not a fair depiction of president obama's budget. that's the rhetoric we are likely to hear so they can vote against it. the fact is they are going to vote against it for one reason, just like a year ago, because of president obama's budget. they don't want to be on record voting for anybody. they will be the -- that will be the most remarkable outcome of today's exercise. we're going to vote on five different budget proposals. three are being offered by senate republicans. one is budget chairman ryan's budget. and the final resolution is president obama's budget.
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not only have senate democrats failed to even propose a budget, they will likely vote in lock step against each of the five budget proposals. we're likely to see the senate democrats come to the floor and one by one and cast roughly 265 votes against the consideration of any budget. is that leadership? is that conviction? they are in the majority, and when it comes to proposing and supporting a budget, they are the party of no, and i think the party of obstruction. democrats are the party filibustering consideration of bubble blueprints. my friend, the budget chairman, was quoted recently as saying -- quote -- "this is the wrong time to vote in committee. this is the wrong time to vote on the floor. i don't think we will be prepared to vote before the election." end of quote. how many more trillions do we need to add to the national debt before it's time to vote on a
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budget resolution? if now is not the time to lead, propose bold solutions and take action, when is? the american people are going to pay a heavy price for the unwillingness and the inability of the senate majority to lead and offer solutions. once again, the senate majority and its leadership and president obama are content to be absent from the discussion. three years without this sort of debate is proof of that. there are no solutions. there is no leadership. there is only failure and punting until after the next election. we have a moral obligation to offer serious solutions for today and most importantly for future generations. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from maryland is recognized. mr. cardin: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, the budget document is a very important
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document. it speaks to the priorities of our nation, and it gives instructions to our committees to report out legislation consistent with that budget resolution. it gives instructions to the appropriations committee to pass appropriation bills and to other committees as it may affect revenues or mandatory spending. we have that budget document for the fiscal year that begins october 1 of this year. that was included in the budget control act which passed this body by 74 votes. it has the force and effect of law. so our appropriations committees know the numbers for the appropriation bills for the year that begins october 1, and the other committees know what the requirements will be. the question is whether we should have a longer term commitment on dealing with our budget problems, and we do need
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a bipartisan, credible program that involves not only the democrats and republicans in the senate but also the democrats and republicans in the house and the president of the united states. we need to avoid sequestration and we need the predictability for our economy and for those who act upon our actions to know what the rules will be. we need to have a responsible plan to deal with the long-term deficit that's balanced and fair, that involves more revenue and spending cuts, that allows our recovery to continue, and is bipartisan. and i want to compliment senator conrad for his leadership in getting us an opportunity to move in that direction. i think senator conrad showed tremendous leadership on behalf of the democratic members of the budget committee to forgo bringing forward a partisan
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budget, instead said, let's take a look at a long-term budget that can get bipartisan support that's been tested, that's been out there, and that's called bowles-simpson. now, we're talking about the broad outline, a budget document gives broad instructions to the committee. it's so called the macro numbers. the chairman has provided us the leadership on that issue. but don't get confused. we have a budget for the fiscal year that begins october 1, we have it earlier than we've ever had it and it has the force and effect of law. each of the four republican plans that we will be voting on move us in the wrong direction to accomplishing those goals. they use almost all of the spending cuts that are included in these budgets are used for additional tax cuts and it benefits primarily those who really don't need an additional tax cut. the house republican budget would provide $1 trillion in tax
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cuts for the wealthiest among us, giving millionaires on average a tax cut of $150,000. at the same time that budget would ask our college students to pay more by allowing interest rates on their loans to increase, and they would ask our seniors to pay more by paying more for their medicare benefits. they've got it backwards. those who have sacrificed the most during these economic times under the republican budgets would be asked to pay more. those who have benefited the most during that period of time would get additional tax cuts. that's not what we should be doing. it would hurt our economic recovery. it's irresponsible to make the type of cuts that are in the republican budget that deal with american innovation, take a look what it would do for basic research in this country which i hope we all agree is necessary for america to continue to lead the world in innovation. in my own state of maryland i
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look at the jobs that we've created through the bio tech field, through cybersecurity. basic research is critically important to advance those job opportunities and economic opportunities for america. it would reduce our commitments for building our infrastructure. that's our transit systems, our roads, our energy grids. if we're going to be competitive, we need to rebuild america to meet the global challenges. it would reduce our commitments in education. an educated work force is america's future. investing in our children is what we should be doing. the quality of k-12 would suffer. even pre-k as they do with head start and the cost of sliewns on postsecondary education would go up. our seniors would be thrown into a voucher program at medicare at the mercy of private insurance companies and asked to pay more and more and more when they're already overburdened by the cost of their health care. under the toomey budget they
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would block grant medicaid, throwing that burden onto our states, our children and families would suffer. under the paul budget, social security benefits would be reduced on average by 39%. social security is a violate life line for the people of this country. and turning it into a program that becomes really a political football is not what we need for this country. and for our students, the cost of college education would be increased. we need to put forward a credible plan to reduce the deficit. we need to do this, and we've done it before. when bill clinton was president of the united states i was serving in the house of representatives, we passed a plan that balanced our federal budget, actually created a surplus. how did we do it? we did it through a balanced approach. we did it through cutting spending, and raising the revenues that we paid our bills and what were the results? our economy took off, creating millions of jobs.
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that's what we need to do again. how do we get this done? let's get working together. let's have democrats and republicans work together in order to come up with a balanced approach that has spending and those who can afford to pay more should be paying more because it's not fair to future generations for us to spend money today and ask our children and grandchildren to pay for it tomorrow. and let us protect the programs that are important for economic growth, for the dignity of our seniors, and for the welfare of our children. it starts with rejecting the extreme partisan budgets that our republican colleagues are offering on the floor, and i urge my colleagues to reject those budget resolutions. with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor. a senator: mr. president. the presiding officer: the
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senator from idaho is recognized. mr. crapo: thank you, mr. president. i appreciate the efforts by our republican leader, mitch mcconnell, and the ranking member of our senate budget committee, jeff sessions, to give the senate a chance today to do its job. mr. president, it has been more than three years since the senate has passed a budget. almost 1,100 days. $4 trillion in increased debt since we last had a budget. and yet it seems as if the current majority are the only ones who don't think passing a budget is a part of our job. i have to stop here just a moment and commend the chairman of the budget committee, senator conrad because i know he has fought mightily to get a budget to this floor. but the politics he faces have not allowed him to do so. and as of today, for 1,100 days, we have not been able to see a budget proposal reach the senate floor from our committee.
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i've worked with senator conrad long and hard and will continue to do so on trying to get a broad bipartisan solution brought forward. but today we need to take action on the senate floor. everyone else has a budget. the house -- the president has offered a budget. the house republicans have offered a budget. the house democrats have offered a budget. the senate republicans have introduced several budgets which we will vote on here today. every american family and every american business has to develop a budget. previous congresses including those that enacted the congressional budget act last year clearly saw the importance of congress in enacting a budget every year. in fact, it was that congressional budget act that we were able to get put into place last year that put into effect the mechanism that we are employing today which says that if the majority party leadership nails to bring a budget forward
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by the statutory deadline, then any senator has the right to call for consideration of any budget on the senate calendar. so let's look at the budgets that we will be voting on today. first we have the president's budget. at a time when our national debt is more than $15.6 trillion, well more than 100% of our gross domestic product, the president's budget seemingly makes no acknowledgment of the dramatic and predictable fiscal crisis that we face. instead of embracing the comprehensive work of his own fiscal commission, the bowles simpsons commission which i served on or any of the key bipartisan proposals that are available like the ryan or the domenici-rivlin plan or coming up with a reform plan of his own, the president's budget regrettably remains within the old discredited framework of trying to tax and spend our way into prosperity.
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the president's budget would raise taxes by $2 trillion. and this is in addition to the $1.2 trillion of tax increases in the health care law which are just beginning to take effect and will continue to roll out over the next few years. perhaps even more remarkable, the president's budget actually increases spending by $1.2 trillion more than current law. so another $1.2 trillion in new spending, another $2.000000000000 to $3 trillion in new taxes, no structural entitlement reform and no discretionary spending reform. even though it is widely acknowledged that the current path of our entitlement programs is unsustainable, and that they are on track to soon become insolvent, the president's budget has no comprehensive reforms to our entitlement programs. none. the modest amount of health care savings he does propose would not even be enough to offset the
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extension of the doc fix or the other increases in the health care spending that he proposes. mr. president, this is a dangerous approach and it should be noted that this budget failed by a vote of zero to 414 in the house. yet we have no other pending proposal from the other side to consider. today the senate will also have an opportunity to reject the president's approach to the federal budget, and i expect that it will do so just as it did last time. and because the democratic majority here in the senate has failed to produce their own budget, we will also have the opportunity to vote on some important budget proposals offered by the house budget committee chairman and by our own colleagues here in the senate, senators toomey and paul and lee. each of these proposals would include true comprehensive reforms to our entitlement programs, to prevent the pending insolvency and to protect the programs for current
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and future generations. and would put us on a sustained pathway to balancing our federal budget. these budgets also call for comprehensive tax reform which take us out of the old paradigm of congress debating whether to raise or cut taxes and instead these proposals would reach in their own way dramatically streamline the tax code, reduce the tax rates and unleash significant economic growth in our economy. a by-product of this -- by-product of this growth would be an increase in revenue to deal with our impending debt crisis. i commend the chairman, senator conrad, for his effort to bring forward a comprehensive plan, a solution, one that originated with the bowles simpson commission on which he and i sit or saturday and which has been worked on by the so-called gang of six for a significant amount of time now to improve and bring
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forward, and one which the chairman is prepared to move when the opportunity is available. i've encouraged him to do it now. i believe we ought to have it on the floor today for this debate. but whenever the time becomes available, it's a proposal like this that we need to be dealing with, and we need to develop the bipartisan solutions that -- support that is necessary to pass it. and what is it? first of all, as we worked on the bowles simpson comaition we made some basic decisions. we concluded that spending was the major problem, that's where the major part of the solution should be, but that revenue was also critical to the solution. and that growing our economy was an important part of anything that congress should do. we first discussed putting together a strong approach to entitlement reform, structural entitlement reform. we put strong spending caps in place. and we made clear that our
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spending pat e--- patterns in the federal budget would be brought under control. in addition, recognizing the importance for a need of strong growth, we acknowledged the fact that our tax code must be reformed and not in the traditional battleground of whether to raise taxes on one group or lower taxes on another, but in a complete paradigm shift to focus on the fact of reforming both our corporate and individual tax codes. if you went about trying to create a tax code that was more unfair, more complex, more expensive to comply with and more anticompetitive to our own american business interests, you'd be hard pressed to do it different or worse than we've done with our own tax code. and we concluded that we ought to reform that code to develop a strong, dynamic tax code for america to build forward with and that's why we proposed broadening the base, reducing the rates, and reforming the way that we tax in america by
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simplifying our tax code and making america a strong, powerful, and robust economy as it historically has been. and then we put together what is critical for any plan to succeed, and that is an enforcement mechanism. congress has a perfect record of violating its own budgets. congress has a record of ignoring the budgets with simply getting 60 votes to waive the budget act whenever congress wants to spend in excess of a budget. and literally in every budget in the last two decades or more, congress has done so. republican or democrat, the congresses have done so. what we put together in our negotiations was an enforcement plan that would keep congress within the walls of the budget that we adopt. it would have a series of points of order to protect against the declaration of emergencies unjustifiably and would then
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force even emergency spending that usually is conducted outside the budget to be done in the face of a sequestration backed up by 67-vote points of order on the floor of the senate. this kind of strong enformat is also critical to what we must do to protect our nation. we need a comprehensive plan. we need to have entitlement reform. we need to have discretionary spending reform. and we need to have budget enforcement that is solid. we need to strengthen our revenue stream and reform our tax code by lowering the tax rates and broadening the base in such a way that simplifies the code and gives american businesses the opportunity to compete across this globe f. we do so, we will see a strong revenue component to our reform measures and we will see a strong growth coming just out of the fact that we put together effective spending controls. that we've got to get there and we've got to do it. and so in conclusion, mr. president, i again want to
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say i appreciate the opportunity to work with senator conrad as we try to put this kind of a broad, comprehensive reform package together and build the bipartisan support for it. but i'm very discouraged still by the fact that we cannot get a budget proposal on to the floor of the senate that we can work on. i also want to again appreciate the leadership of senator mcconnell and senator sessions, who have given the senate the opportunity today to debate this issue and have votes at least on meaningful proposals that move us down the path of reform that i've discussed. and put us into a pathway for economic prosperity and growth for all. america is at a terrible crisis point. our national debt now exceeding over 100% of our g.d.p. threatens our economy. mr. president, we must take action. we cannot let another year go by without adopting a budget on the floor of the senate. with that, mr. president, i thank you, and i yield the
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floor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: senator cardin, i would say to senator boxer, who is here, if she would be prepared to go ahead, the situation we find ourselves in is we only have now 34 minutes left on our side. could the senator use seven minutes? mrs. boxer: sure. mr. conrad: i thank the senator very much for her cooperation. i'd say to other colleagues, -- senator murray is here now. senator murray was scheduled to go next. senator murray, we've got a situation in which our time is rapidly fleeting. they have much more time left on their side than we do on ours. could the senator do her presentation in seven minutes? mrs. murray: i will attempt to do my best, sir. mr. conrad: very well. senator murray for seven
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minutes. then we go to senator boxer. i ask unanimous consent, followed by senator boxer for seven minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mrs. murray: thank you, mr. president. and i want to thank senator conrad for his tremendous leadership on this critical issue. mr. president, at the end of last week, republicans in the house of representatives passed legislation that continues their mad dash away from the bipartisan budget control act and really reflects the up upside-down priorities that are guiding their party and stands absolutely no chance of passage here in the senate. mr. president, i think it would be very helpful to point -- at this point to remind my colleagues of the recent history that has brought us to this point. in august of last year, democrats and republicans came together and we agreed to the budget control act to cut spending and put in place a process for additional deficit reduction.
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the purpose of that bipartisan agreement was to move towards serious deficit reduction and to give some consistency to the federal budget so the american people would want be threatened threatened -- would not be threatened with a government shutdown every few months. mr. president, that bipartisan deal sets the levels for next year's discretionary spending which allows us in congress to do our jobs and work to allocate federal resources towards investments in jobs and infrastructure and innovation and maintaining our commitment to our service members and their families and protecting and supporting middle-class families and so much more. that was the agreement we came to. senator boehner -- speaker boehner shook on it. minority leader mcconnell shook on it. majority leader reid signed it. and joined many of my colleagues in voting for it. and then president obama signed it into law. it became the law of the land. a law that i would add is binding, that replaces and carries more weight than a
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budget resolution and that makes the budget resolutions we are debating today nothing more than political theater. senate democrats fully intend to honor our word and stick to the bipartisan budget levels for next year. and senate republicans in our appropriations committee, including the minority leader, recently voted to stick to those levels as well. but i was really disappointed that less than nine months after we shook hands on that deal, house republicans turned right around and broke it. they put appeasing their extreme base ahead of the word they gave to us and the american people and they demonstrated clearly that a deal with them isn't worth the paper it's printed on. but despite house republicans' reneging on the deal, the budget control act is the law, it is signed and we have so many challenges ahead of us as a nation, we cannot afford to
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relitigate bipartisan deals every time members of the extreme end of the republican party make some noise at a meeting. but, mr. president, house republicans are not only trying to relitigate that budget control act, they want to pretend it never happened. as part of that deal, in addition to the $1 trillion in discretionary spending cuts, a joint select committee on deficit reduction was formed to reduce the deficit by at least an additional $1.2 trillion. in -- if that committee couldn't come to an agreement, the budget control act put in place automatic spending cuts, sequestration, which spread evenly across defense and nondefense spending. we all knew at the time that sequestration was not the ideal way to reduce spending but we wanted to have that in place so that painful cuts were prominent and would help both sides to come to a bipartisan compromise. mr. president, i was called on by the majority leader to
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cochair that committee with republican representative jeb henserling and i'm proud of the hard work that committee did do. and, of course, as we know, i was extremely disappointed that in the end that committee was not able to come up with a bipartisan deal. but, mr. president, i want to be clear because this is very relevant today, we weren't able to get a deal because republicans refused to even consider tax increases on the wealthiest americans. the talks fell apart around that issue and that issue alone. i came to the table with many of my colleagues with proposals for serious compromises on spending and a willingness to move forward with smart changes to strengthen entitlements. we knew many of these compromises would be painful but we were willing to put them forward to get to a bipartisan deal and a balanced deal. but as much as we offered, we couldn't get our republican colleagues to give an inch when
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it came to taxes on wealthiest americans and biggest corporations. even though the rich are paying the lowest tax rates today in generations. they were fundamentally opposed to any plan that would call on the wealthy to pay a penny more in taxes. and in poll after poll, americans today overwhelmingly say they want to see a balanced approach to tackling the deficit and debt that puts everything on the table, including revenue. and every single bipartisan group that has come together to tackle this -- simpson-bowles, domenici-rivlin, gang of six -- all of them have included a balanced approach that does reduce spending and raises revenues. because everyone knows that's the only real and fair way to tackle this challenge. and it simply doesn't make any sense to solve this problem with cuts alone. so, as we watch house republicans rolling back the
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automatic cuts they don't like and acting like the bipartisan budget control act never happened, i say to them today what i said to republicans in the joint select committee, we will not allow the debt and deficit to be reduced on the backs of our middle class and most vulnerable americans without calling on the wealthiest to contribute as well it's not fair, it's not what the american people want and it's not going to happen. we are facing these automatic cuts because republicans continue putting protecting the rich above all else. and unless that changes before the end of the year, our country is going to have to face the consequence of intransigence. mr. president, republicans in the house of representatives are not only acting like the b.c.a. never happened, they are highlighting the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of a party that allows itself only to think in terms of cutting, shrinking, eliminating and never in terms of investing and
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growing and fairness. the legislation they passed would roll back sequestration for next year by simply taking funding from programs middle-class families and the most vulnerable americans count on and shifting it to defense. i would ask the senator from north dakota if i could have one additional minute. mr. conrad: yes. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mrs. murray: mr. president, they want all the deficit reduction from the budget control act without any bipartisan compromise or shared sacrifice. the choices we make as a body in the coming months will affect every single american. mr. president, as we have said from the start, we will put everything on the table but that word is "everything." we cannot come to a solution in america unless everybody contributes shared sacrifice. that's the principle we have been fighting for, it is the one
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we will continue to fight for, and, mr. president, that is what the american people want and i'm proud to stand with my party to continue to fight for that. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. and i ask that the balance of my statement be printed in the record as if read. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california is recognized. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i rise to say that it is stunning to see the republican party running away from a bill that they supported, from the deal that they cut, a deficit-reduction deal that was led by senator conrad, the budget control act, which is the law of the land. and instead they're offering up a series of budgets that i believe will destroy this country. why do i say that? because they destroy the middle class and they give to the millionaires and the billionaires. that is a recipe for a third
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world nation. the haves and the have notes. and i hope the american people wake up and pay attention, because a budget really is a statement of who we are as a people. i was proud to serve on the budget committee. i wish i was still on there but i had other options and i -- for my state, i decided to leave the budget committee and go on the commerce committee. and i want to tell you something , that's a tough committee. that's one tough committee, and we are going to miss senator conrad. his leadership is exemplary. and he has explained why the replacement budgets that the republicans have offered just are unworkable. some of them don't even make any sense. but i have to tell you, this is serious business because one of them did pass the house, and they not only passed the house but then they passed another law -- we call it reconciliation -- which is dangerous in what they did. so let me tell you what they did
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and let me be clear, because it is not difficult to explain. what they did is stand up with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their power and their fervor to fight for the 1%. they are fighting for the millionaires, the multimillionaires, the billionaires, the trillionaires. you name it, that's who they're fighting for. they're giving them back an average of $150,000 a year. and over the ten-year period, that average millionaire can write a big kiss to the republicans if this ever became law because they would get back $1.5 million over the ten-year periodment -- period. and how do they pay for this largess? how do they pay for this warm, fuzzy hug to the people that have everything? they cut the heart out of the
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middle class. and i'll give you some examples. they would allow student loan rates to double so that students would have to pay not a three percentage point interest rate on their student loans but over 6%. they will cut the heart and soul out of america's infrastructure. did you ever look at the construction industry lately? well, there's 1.4 million unemployed construction workers. we need to make sure they're building the roads and the 70,000 bridges that are deficient and the highways. half of our roads don't meet the standard. we need to rebuild america, as the president said. not afghanistan, not pakistan. thank you, very much. iraq, the glad of our people are on the ground -- iraq, the blood of our people are on the ground over there. it's time to spend that money here, as our president has said.
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but oh, no, they continue all that war spending, they add to that war spending, and they expect everybody else to stand back and quietly accept a doubling of their student loan rate, a cut in the transportation program. they end medicare, period. they're going to turn it into a voucher system. and -- and our elderly are going to have to negotiate to try and find a way to pay for health insurance and thousands of dollars more it will cost them. one of these budgets actually cut social security by 39%. senator conrad, am i right on that point? imagine a social security recipient living on, you know, $18,000, getting a cut of almost 40%. so this is what they're doing, folks. they eliminate the department of
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education, they eliminate d.c. man--they eliminate, many of th, the ability of people to pay for their energy assistance in the winters. they walk away from alternative energy, which is going to free us from foreign oil and make us safer. that's what they do. and they do it all in the name of tax breaks for the people in america who -- i'm very proud of them, they made it. they made it. and i got to tell you, in my state, a lot of those folks who have made it have written to me and said, senator, we want to have everybody have the chance we had. but the republicans, their only passion is for those that have. they practice robinhood in reverse. they even in one of the budgets -- i think it is the ryan budget -- they tax the poorest people.
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they raise taxes on the poorest peep and cut tastles on the -- on the poorest people and cut taxes on the richest. isn't that sweet? isn't 24 that kind? not. so they bring america to its knees. they walkway from the budget control act. you know why they don't like it? because it forces spending across the board. i don't like that. but we are serious about deficit reduction. in my closing remarks, i am tbeeg say this: in the last 40 years one party balanced the budget. in the last 40 years one party created a surplus. that happens to be the democratic party and a democratic president named bill clinton. how did we do it? we met each other halfway. we said, you know what? when we're faced with a crisis, you got to put everything on the table and everybody makes a little bit of a sacrifice.
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it is no big deal. you ask the people who have the most to do a little more, and finyou find ways to cut spendin. that's what we did in the clinton years. and you know what happened? yeted -- i think it's -- we created -- i think it's 23 million new jobs, mr. president. 23 million new jobs. we balanced the budget, we created a surplus, and now we have to listen to the demagogues over there lecture us about how to balance the budget. wrong. we know how to do it. you don't know how to do it. all you know how to do is stand up and a attack our president, when our president inherited this terrible deficit from george w. bush, who took a surplus -- bush did -- and turned it into deficits as far as the eye can see. and we were losing -- and i will ask for 30 additional seconds. the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mrs. boxer: we were losing, remember, how many jobs a month?
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-- 800,000 jobs a month when our president took over. the country was falling apart. he saved the auto industry. it's back on top when others said, let them go bankrupt. he started the job creation. it's not good enough. but i'll tell you one thing. if we're going to get it better here, we better start working together. let's live by the budget control act. it is the law of the land. and let's use that time to find a long-term solution, like we did in the clinton years. thank you very much, and i yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: i just want to make a reference to the budget control act. one of my colleagues said the republicans are running away from the budget control act, and i would suggest that's not accurate. in truth, the budget control act
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was a cap on spending, and the republicans have proposed that we spend less than that. as any economist would tell us we need to do, because it wasn't suvment an-- because it wasn't sufficie. and the difficulty arises when you consider what president obama proposed with regards to the budget control act. it is amazing. the president signed in august a budget control act about $2.1 trillion in exchanges for reducing spending by $1.2 trillion and he signed that and it went into effect and it is the current law today. but when he proposed his budget in january of this year that we'll vote on later today -- i suspect it will not get a single vote and it should not -- president obama's budget wiped out half of that savings, $1
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trillion. those savings were wiped out and he replaced it with almost -- and he added more spending in addition and -- mr. president, i am having a little trouble thinking here. the presiding officer: the senator will be in order. the senatorthe senator will susa moavment the senator is recognized. mr. sessions: so i think the dramatic event that's gone unappreciated is that the president's budget eviscerates the budget control act and puts us back on a full-speed, tax-and-spend cowmplets i see my colleague, senator endisee here, a senior member of the budget committee. he has been involved in so many of the important issues. he himself is an accountant, a small businessman, and he understands the real world and the value of a dollar. mr. president, i would yield to senator enzi.
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mr. enzi: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming is recognized. mr. enzi: i thank the ranking member of the committee and the thank him for awful his work -- for all of his work on this issue and the suggestions that he has and the importance of what we're doing today. so i rise today to discuss our nation's budget situation and the budget proposals that we'll vote on later today. while i'm pleased that my colleagues have put forth a number of good ideas, this debate is long overdue. the congressional budget act sets a statutory deadline of april 1 for the senate budget committee to report a budget resolution and a deadline of april 15 for completion of a congressional budget. despite these statutory deadlines, it's been more than three years since the united states passed a budget, and the majority party once again refuses to debate this important topic through the normal budget process. we did not mark up a budget in the senate budget committee, and we've not been given the
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opportunity to offer amendmentss to any of the budgets that are before us on the senate floor. that's disappointing. with a national debt approaching $16 trillion -- it's hard for me to even say -- $16 trillion. i saw a kid with a t-shirt and it said, "please don't tell him what comes after $1 trillion." we can't afford to keep operating with a budget. that's a blueprint to put the country on a sustainable path in the short- and long-term. we can't afford to spend money that we don't have without a plan to get our spending you understand control and we're so bad on spending that we're taking ten years' worth of revenue to pay for two years of projects p. i don't know what we do after the two years. how far out can you borrow for money that may not even come in because it might not even be
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budgeted? a budget is supposed to do just that. it is supposed to put spending under control. instead, for the third year in a row, it looks like the senate majority will refuse pass a plan to help fix the fiscal crisis we face. in the three years since the senate majority passed a budget, our country has spent approximately $10.4 trillion. we've accumulated around $4.5 trillion in gross debt, which translates to an additional $15,000 for every man, woman, and child. $15,000 for every man, woman, and child, which brings it up to about $49,000 total for every man, woman, and child. since we last adopted a budget, we've spent more than $626 billion on net interest payments to service the debt alone. these are unsustainable levels of spending, and yet the majority continues to ignore the problem and refuses to take
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these numbers seriously and consider much less pat a budget -- pass a budget. the majority argues that we have a budget in place because of the passage of the budget control act which also governed our spindzinspending in fiscal year. if that truly govern what had we're doing, why did the president even submit a budget to us? if that was the budget, he shouldn't have gone to all the effort to put his own budget together. but he felt that he needed to put a budget together. in fiscal year 2011 the government brought in slightly more than $2.3 trillion in revenue. at the same time that we collected $2.3 trillion, we spent $3.6 trillion. in other words, we overspent by $1.3 trillion. that's more than 50% of the
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revenue that we were expecting. we're on pace for another $1 trillion deficit this year. the budget control act may include some spending limits, but with record trillion-dollar deficits, the budget control act cannot replace an actual budget that puts in place long-term spending cuts and helps get our country back on the path to balance. again, if that budget croi contl act really took care of everything, the president would not have needed to submit a budget. he did. now, i applaud the president for appointing a deficit commission. we tried to pass that as a bill here. it came close but it didn't make it, and he saw that that was a need and he appointed a commission. the chairman of the commission was -- it was cochaired by erskine bowles and senator alan simpson. and they painted a pretty bleak picture for our country. and more than a year and a half has gone by since they
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paintinged that picture and it's gotten worse, not better. i really expected at the state of the union that year that the president would have painted the same bleak picture that he'd been handed by the deficit commission. it's scary. it's now scarier. but he didn't. instead, he gave us another stimulus budget. i think if he would have painted the bleak picture in the state of the union that was handed to him by the deficit commission, if he would have painted that same picture, not placed a solution out there, painted the picture so america would understand where we are with the debt and the deficit, if he would have dong that -- if he would have done that he could have come out with a budget that was parallel to what simpson-bowles had and i think we would have had a solution over a year ago. we have a nearly $16 trillion debt and it keeps growing.
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it's unaffordable and we need to make a chaifnlg change. what will happen if we don't act and if we don't cut spending? we won't be able to afford the military we need. people will have drastically reduced social security checks. roads won't be fixed. all of our money will go toward paying interest on the debt. people shouldn't doubt that this is real. there were riots in the streets in greece when their government was forced to deal with the realities of debt. the united states -- we owe $49,000 for every man, woman, and child. if greece they won'tst want to go to $39,000 and have to make drastic cuts. and they had riots in the streets. now they've stepped back with the recent elections and are trying to turn away from the reality of their debt. does that sound familiar? i have news for you. our debt per person, as i
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mentioned, is more than greece's debt per person. it's more than italy's debt per person. in fact the united states owes more than all of the euro countries and the united kingdom put together. my republican colleagues and i have put forth a series of budgets that would help to improve the fiscal situation. i've drafted legislation that would reduce spending by 1% per year until we reach a balance. by reducing spending by 1%, we can achieve balance by fiscal year 2017. that's a 1% reduction per year until 2017. and most of the people that i've talked to -- and i talk to are a lot of people in wyoming and some other places around the country -- have said, 1% is not bad. 1% is definitely not bad if you have to compare it to the possibility of a 19% cut when we
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step off the cliff. the house of representatives passed a budget last year that cut spending by $5.8 trillion. this year the house passed a second budget that would reduce the deficit by $4.4 trillion, in comparison to the president's budget over the next decade which does nothing to improve the short- or long-term economic outlook of the country. obama's budget would make things worse. senator toomey would put together a detailed plan that would balance the budget within eight years. it would enact corporate tax reform and adopt important changes to the entitlement programs that are the drivers of the nation's unsustainable debt. senator paul has put forth a budget that would balance within five years. it eliminates four departments and reduces spending by $8 trillion over the next ten years. and it seems radical, but we're
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facing a cliff, and he's willing to put a budget out there. senator lee also introduced a budget that balances our budget by fiscal year 2017. it's by cutting spending by $7.1 trillion over the next ten years and it too reforms medicare and social security. why do we have to reform medicare? well, in the health care reform bill, we took half a trillion dollars out of medicare. it was already going broke. but, don't worry, we put in a special panel that will tell where cuts can come each and every year. and if we don't suggest different cuts, those go into effect without a vote of the united states senate. $500 billion, the only places it can cut are doctors, hospitals, nursing homes, home health care, and other providers. you don't have a doctor, i don't think you have much medical
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care. so, they're -- there are going to have to be reforms in medicare. we've already forced that. social security, there aren't as many people working now as will soon be on social security and that creates problems. now i don't agree with anything in these budgets that i mentioned. but i want to commend my republican colleagues for making tough choices and putting forth solutions. while they have been doing that, president obama and the senate majority has ignored the problem and refused to acknowledge the need to cut spending. they've demonized republicans and suggested it's our intention to harm seniors, poor people and children. one advertisement showed a picture of house budget chairman ryan pushing an elderly woman off a cliff. that kind of rhetoric doesn't help anything. that rhetoric's over the top. while their solutions have been nonexistent. last year president obama's
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budget was such an empty proposal that it failed by a vote of 0-97 in the senate. in the house this year, his latest budget failed by a vote of 0-414, and i suspect that it may face the same fate when it's considered later today, the same one they voted on. not a single member of either party was willing to support the budget's -- the president's budget proposal. how's that for leadership? and on some of the countries that have a parliamentary form of government, they've heard about these votes and are terribly shocked because in their country it would call for a special election and a new prime minister. so we'll be voting on five budgets later today, four from republican members and president obama's budget. absent from the discussion is a budget produced by the senate majority. that's shirking the
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responsibility to govern. we're in too serious a situation to continue ignoring the budget problems we face. at a time when the national debt breaks down to more than $49,000 for every person in wyoming and across this country, we can't afford to continue business as usual. we can't continue punting the tough decisions simply because the tough decisions might impact our reelection campaigns. the decisions that are painful today will be even more painful in the future. we talk about pay-fors here when people want to do a new program or continue an old program with additional expenses. but we better start including the debt. our debt is greater than the value of everything that we produce in this country in a year. that's the gross national product. the debt's greater than the
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gross in the product. there are a lot of stories about what happens when your debt gets greater than the gross national product, and none of them are good. i've heard from a lot of people in wyoming about the national debt and the lack of a budget for more than three years. while they have different viewpoints on the best solution, they have one common message: do something. do something. and do it as soon as possible. i'm concerned that after votes, we'll end up in the same place we started: without a budget and without a fiscal plan to get our nation's debt and deficit in check. i don't know about you, but it's keeping me up nights. some of my colleagues have offered plans to make that happen. those who control the senate appear content to sit on the sidelines and criticize. while that happens, we continue to add trillions of dollars to our national debt. i'd encourage my colleagues on
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the other side of the aisle to think about what it means to future generations and join us in finding a plan to fix our fiscal woes. and i know that's what they're thinking about because i've been in meetings off of the hill where they've talked about the same thing. but we've got to solve it. we can't just talk about it. and we can't give it lip service when we're off of the floor and excuse it when we're on the floor. i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: before senator enzi leaves, he made reference to the fact that the european parliamentary system, when a prime minister proposes a budget that fails, that would be cause for collapse of the government and new election. he also correctly recalled how the deficit commission was appointed by president obama,
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came back with a number of recommendations that would have gone far more, far further than the president's budget than dealing with our debt course. but i just would ask him about that moment he mentioned when after the debt commission reported and the president came before the joint session of congress to state -- to give the state of the union, was the senator surprised and disappointed that the president virtually ignored the debt commission, did not take the opportunity to explain to this whole audience of american people that we are on an unsustainable course that could lead to financial catastrophe? mr. enzi: i was both surprised and disappointed. i thought he had a unique opportunity, and it had been handed to him on a platter that he designed. he appointed these people, and they put a lot of hours into it,
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including the senator from north dakota who's here, and came up with a plan. it wasn't a pleasant plan by anybody's imagination. it was an important plan by everybody's imagine -- well, evidently not everybody or we would have adopted it by now. but it had some critical things in there that should be taken care of, should be considered in a budget and should have leadership coming from the white house. that's where leadership on budgets happens. i remember being in the wyoming legislature, and we have a requirement there that you have to balance a budget each and every year. we do that. if you find out there's going to be a deficit before the legislature meet, when they only meet for 20 days in the budget kwraoerbgs and if you -- budget year, and if you know about it before that time then the legislature has to make those cuts. one of the things i noted was that when we made the cuts, the people in the administration
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picked out something that was really painful and made that cut so that the constituents out there would say, oh, that really hurt. those stupid legislators picked the wrong things. it wasn't the legislators that picked the wrong things. it was the people in charge of each of those trying to make sure that the legislature felt pain. if that deficit is noted outside of the time of the few days that the legislature meets, then the governor has to make the cuts. virtually everybody in the administration worked for the governor, so when he made the cuts, they took the priorities and they chopped off the lowest priorities. and so it really wasn't noticeable around the state, and it works out well. that's leadership. that's tough leadership because the governor doesn't like to have to be the one that's held up for all the scrutiny of what's spent. that's what the president has to do.
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that's the president's job to get this budget back in balance. there are some examples around the world where when they put the budget on a path to balancing, the economy comes up. that gives people a little bit of confidence in what can happen. right now there's not a lot of confidence around this country, and so the economy is dropping. but a good budget that follows a plan, that gets us in fiscal stability would make a huge difference for this country and stimulate business. mr. sessions: i couldn't agree more. i do believe that the debt course we're on, which is unsustainable -- every expert and witnesses that come before the budget committee on which senator enzi and i serve have told us it's unsustainable. and if we get off of it and tighten our belts and do things like governor bentley in alabama is doing, governor christie has had to do, governor brown is now facing in california -- they
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have let that state go so far out of control, it's going to be difficult to bring it back. but they have to make tough choices. so if we do that, i believe we will get some positive impact on the economy just from the confidence that restores. senator conrad, i see senator lieberman's here. i would be willing to yield back if you're ready to use some time now. mr. conrad: i would like to say to my colleague we have 17 minutes left on this side. we have four senators left to speak. you've got, i think, probably 54, 53 minutes left, something like that. senator lieberman, if you could take about four minutes, if that would work for you. mr. lieberman: i was hoping for four and a quarter minutes. mr. sessions: i yield 4
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minutes to the senator from our side. mr. lieberman: thank you. mr. sessions: a flat 8 -- mr. lieberman: pardon? mr. sessions: you'd have a flat 8 minutes. mr. lieberman: that's very generous of my friend. i thank the senator from north dakota, the senator from alabama, and i thank the chair. i've been listening to some of the statements being made. they're quite sincere. they're quite interesting. but i'm afraid that in the end they're not going to signify very much except good intentions. we've got ourselves in a position here where we all know that the country has a terrible problem. we're living -- we're spending a lot more than we're bringing in. and in the simplest way to explain it is that the last time i looked -- i think i'm still close on this -- revenues of the federal government are about 15% or 16% of gross domestic product. spending of the federal government is about 25% of gross domestic product. there you've got a yawning,
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enormous deficit which adds up now to a long-term debt of over $15 trillion. and we can't go on like this and be a great country. we can't go on like this and have any hope of economic recovery. i happen to agree, i should say in gratitude for the extra time senator sessions has just given me. i happen to agree with the last thing he said that i think -- and i'm not alone. i think people on both sides feel this -- which is the best thing we can do for our economy and economic growth is to adopt a bipartisan long-term program that will reduce and hopefully eliminate our debt. why? because it will restore confidence in the american economy. we all know that jobs don't come from government. they shouldn't come from government or in government. jobs that people want, need come from the private sector. and the last time i looked, the private sector, american business was sitting on
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somewhere between $2 trillion and $3 trillion of liquid assets that they're not spending. and why aren't they spending it? they have very little confidence in the future. not just confidence about how the economy is going to be, but what we're going to do, what the government's going to do. and i think if we adopted a long-term bipartisan deficit-reduction program that gave them some sense of security about what taxes and spending policies were going to do for some years ahead, they would start to invest that $2 trillion to $3 trillion again, and that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs that people desperately need, who are trying so hard to get back to work. and, look, basically we know what we've got to do to make this happen. to state it bluntly, it's got to be a combination of tax reform and entitlement reform. we've got to raise revenues so they get back up to 18%, 19%,
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20%. and we've got to bring spending down, and most of the spending increases are coming from entitlements, about 18% to 19% of g.d.p. so we can be in balance. it's not very mysterious how we're going to do this. but the political will is not there now to make those tough decisions. and so today is a classic moment. we've got these budget resolutions that are before us as a matter of privilege. they are privileged matters. i really have wanted to vote to proceed to some of them just to get on the subject matter, hoping that maybe the door would be open for direction to various committees, to come back with long-term solutions as i have talked about. we all know that the bowles-simpson model is the one that we're going to eventually get to, and the question is how close do we get to the fiscal cliff or is our country
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falling -- going over the cliff falling down and finally we rush in here and in a panic rescue it with something like simpson-bowles. the closest senate proposal that would do what we need to do is the one that my friend from north dakota has tabled in the budget committee. i wish we could vote on it. i don't know how many votes we would get, but i wish we could at least start the process. i know everybody says we're going to come back after the election and there is going to be a burst of courage, i guess, because the election is over and we're going to do the simpson-bowles tax reform, entitlement reform. i don't -- what i'm sort of hearing in the wind around here is don't count on it. i hope so. senator conrad and i, it's going to be our last couple of months on this particular stage, and there is nothing i know he would like more to be part of and i
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can tell you nothing i would like more to be part of than doing a bipartisan long-term deficit reduction program. but i'm fearful that it's asking an awful lot of this system in a short period of time, and the tendency will be to protect us from falling off the cliff by extending everything that's going to expire at the end of the year. stopping the sequestering, stopping the end of the bush tax cuts. i hope i'm wrong. and i know there are some bipartisan groups that have been part of that are working to get ready for that point, but -- and that's important work because it just can't spring out of nowhere. but our country's future is at stake. the future of the greatest economy in the history of the world. because of our irresponsibilities is the only thing i can say, and we have all been part of it.
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i take blame for part of it. we're not doing what the country needs us to do. so i'm going to vote against the motions to proceed because each of them, the proposals before us doesn't really achieve anything near what we need to do in terms of a balance. entitlement reform and tracks reform. and i do want to say one other thing which i hope we can get to soon. to say the obvious but sometimes it's important to say it, the existing budget process has broken down. it doesn't work. it's not related to the reality of the economic or political times that we're in. so that the budget process, it doesn't work. let me cite a couple of statistics. not since early in 2009 has the congress managed to actually pass a real annual budget resolution.
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i know the budget control act does some of the things a budget resolution would do but not all of them, and it doesn't do what the budget reform of 1974 called on us to do. listen to this. only four times in the last 25 years, four times in 35 years have the appropriations bills been completed prior to the beginning of a new fiscal year. i mean, what business -- what other government entity could operate like that? 1996 was the last time congress successfully passed all the appropriations bills prior to the beginning of a new fiscal year, and we know it because we have been here over and over again. congress slides from one temporary short-term appropriations bill to the next, once in the fiscal year until we throw it into a big hodgepodge, which is not responsible
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government, and a lot gets hidden in it. i know my friends on the budget committee have thought about it. really, we ought to -- do i sense that my time is over? last sentence. i wonder whether we need a commission to take the look in a short period of time, six months, at the budget process we're following now and make recommendations for a new process that will work. maybe it's just a lack of political will and an inability to take on these tough issues now, but maybe it is the process and maybe that's something sooner than later we can work together on. i thank senator conrad, i thank senator sessions for allowing me to speak as long as i was able to. with that, i yield the floor. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. sessions: mr. president, i would share something that was in last week's "wall street
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journal" because it deals with an issue that's important. and not to be dismissed, and that is should we begin to make reductions in spending today. and i think he provides, mr. barrow provides some valuable insights to that. with regards to senator lieberman, i do think that the budget process can work. it should be able to work, but it won't work if we don't try to make it work. under certain circumstances, it's hard to get a bipartisan budget if you don't have everybody together, so maybe it is worth examining whether we can make improvements there. but mr. barrow deals with this question. he writes -- quote -- "the weak economic recovery in the united states and even weaker
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performance in much of europe has renewed calls for ending budget austerity and returning to larger fiscal deficits. curiously, this plea for more fiscal expansion fails to offer any proof that the organization for economic cooperation and development countries that choose more budget stimulus have performed better than those who have chosen austerity." he continues. these are the developed countries in the world. oecd countries. he goes on -- quote -- "the two interesting european cases are germany and sweden, each of which moved toward rough budget balance between 2009 and 2011 -- that's after the financial crisis -- while sustaining comparatively strong growth. the average growth rate per year for real g.d.p. for 2010 and 2011 was 3.6% growth for germany
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and 4.9% for sweden. if austerity is so terrible, how come those two countries have done so well? the oecd countries most clearly in or near renewed recession, greece, portugal, italy, spain and perhaps ireland and the netherlands, are among those with relatively large fiscal deficits, and their deficits for these six countries for 2010-2011 was 7.9% of g.d.p. so every time heightened -- germany and sweden did not raise taxes but cut spending. so he goes on to say every time heightened fiscal deficits fail to produce desirable outcomes, the policy advice is to choose still larger deficits, borrow, tax, spend. he goes on to say -- quote -- "if, as i believe to be true,
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fiscal deficits have only a short-run expansionary impact on the growth and then become negative, the results from following this policy advice are persistently low economic growth and exploding ratio of debt to g.d.p." japan, he goes on to note, once a comparatively low public detonation apparently bought into the keynesian message many years ago. that's the spend message. the consequence for today is a ratio of government to debt g.d.p. 210%, the largest in the world. so i would offer, mr. president, that article into the record because i think it helps give us some guidance that at some point bringing spending under control and tightening our deficit clearly would achieve more financial benefit than continuing to borrow and spend or creating new taxes that the
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press of the economy. mr. president, i would just share a few thoughts in general about where we are. our colleagues on the democratic side have said they want more taxes. they have not told us what taxes, how much and where they would be, but they have told us that. senator conrad has said that. he has also been open and bold about the need to cut spending, so he would like more tax increases than i would like and he would like substantial spending cuts. but that's his view. he stated it publicly. but i would just have to say that's not the position on the democratic majority in the united states senate because they have refused to put it on paper. senator conrad was going to have
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a budget committee hearing. we were going to mark up a budget, he was going to lay out a plan. i guess it would be somewhat simpson-bowles-ish, but it wasn't offered because the leadership and i suppose the members of the democratic conference agreed that they didn't want to be on record. they would rather do like last year, and what happened last year? they voted against the toomey budget, they voted against the ryan budget, they voted against the rand paul budget and voted against the president's budget. wiped their hands. they didn't vote for anything that caused any pain to anybody, and presumably they thought that was better than actually being engaged in leading and telling the american people what they plan to do to change the debt course we're on. that's the deal. i would say a couple of things.
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talking to a group of american citizens today, i would say this -- don't send one more dime to washington, d.c., until they show you a budget how they're going to spend it. i mean, why should they? we get in trouble, we overspend, we place the nation at risk, and all we want to say is send more money? you can't cut. we're going to throw people into the streets and push older folks off the cliff in a wheelchair. i don't think so. i think the american people need to hold this congress, this government to account. they need to say we're not sending you any more money until you get your house in order, and we're not paying for hot tubs in las vegas. we're not throwing away $500 million on a solyndra loan project that never had a chance to succeed and was benefiting
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cronies of the white house. we're not going to pay for the t.s.a. to have warehouses filled with millions of dollars in equipment not being used. you don't have your act together. we want to you get your act together. we want to see some management, we want to see some leadership. and who is the top manager in america? it's not the chairman of the budget committee or the ranking member of the budget committee. it's the chief executive. the president is head of the executive branch. every cabinet member, sub cabinet member, sub, sub, sub cabinet member works for the president. we had a situation where it's become clear that for over a year, people illegally in the country earning money are filing income tax returns and gaining as much as $4 billion a year in earned -- in child tax credit
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money, a direct payment from the united states, for children that don't even live in the country. the inspector general for the u.s. treasury department said this should have been ended, and the i.r.s. is not ending it. congress ought to pass a law about it. the house has done so. this senate hasn't acted. those are the kind of things that are happening. i would think the president of the united states, as soon as he learned that, would say stop it today, if you care about the money of the american people. if you care about the fact that we are now spending about $3.6 trillion a year, taking in $2.3 trillion a year. for the deficit of $1.3 trillion. oh, they say that president bush increased the deficit, and he did, but the highest deficit he ever had was about 450-some-odd billion dollars.
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the last three years under president obama, the deficits have averaged over $1,200,000,000,000 a year. next year, beginning september 30, the next fiscal year, is projected to be over a trillion dollars again. so this is an insustainable course and we're looking here for some reality and leadership, and i just really think it's a stunning, amazing development when we have the president of the united states at a time of financial systemic crisis and danger who has the opportunity to lead, who does not lead, who has an opportunity to tell the american people why we need to change the course we are on. the fact that it's going to take some belt tightening and some pain and some sacrifice. not so much, but some. and we're going to have to do
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it. and if we do it, the country will be on a good path and we can save this country. we can avoid a debt crisis that could happen to us because indeed, our debt per person in america is higher than that of greece, higher than that of any other country in europe. we are in a dangerous area. and we need to get off of it. i am amazed he has not led. and i think it's a development of the most stunning nature that his budget that he submitted to us as the law requires, he did submit it, but it's irresponsible. it got not a single vote in the senate last year, it went down 97-0, it was voted down 414-0 in the house this year. i suspect and in an hour or so it will go down again on the floor of the senate by unanimous vote. that speaks a lot. that says a lot. it indicates the sad state of
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affairs in which we are in. it's deeply disappointing. i see my colleague, senator lee from utah, who is a new member of the senate, and if senator conrad doesn't have an objection, i would yield to him and just would note that senator lee campaigned throughout his state, he talked to thousands and thousands of people, he was elected in this last cycle, he felt the mood of the people of his state and america, they're concerned about the debt course we are on and he has worked extremely hard and has laid out a proposal that he'd like to explain and ask us to support. senator lee, thank you for your leadership, your commitment, your hard work since you've been in the senate. it's been a pleasure to serve with you. mr. lee: senator, mr. conrad: might i inquire of
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senator lee, how much time would the senator require? mr. lee: about 10 to 12 minutes. mr. conrad: could we have an agreement, 15 minutes, would that be reasonable for the senator? mr. lee: yes. mr. conrad: i'm sure if you need more time or if you complete before then and yield back, either way. mr. lee: will do. thank you. mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from utah is recognized. mr. lee: mr. president, the true greatness of our nation lies in the power and the promise of the american dream. unfortunately, for many individuals and families, this dream has become a national nightmare. without the clear priorities and accountability of a budget, we continue to careen toward the economic cliff with our massive debt and trillion-dollar deficits threatening the prosperity of americans from every walk of life. to put it simply, we must change course.
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restoring the american dream will require more than clifer bumper sticker slogans. while optimism is an important part of the american dream, hope simply is not a strategy for the kind of course correction our country desperately needs. doing nothing is no longer an option. although this president and this congress have attempted by not having a budget to convince the american people that doing nothing is somehow the only option, ignoring our broken entitlement programs, maintaining our complex tax code, and pretending we don't have a spending problem ensures that our economy will never truly recover and the american dream will not be restored. the good news for americans is that many of us do have solutions to confront and correct the country's most pressing challenges. in today's debate and discussion, the nation has seen that changing course and
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balancing our budget doesn't have to take 30 years, nor does it have to require the kind of drastic cuts that could devastate america's most vulnerable citizens. as we conclude this debate, i remind my colleagues of the old adage, you can make excuses or you can make progress, but you cannot make both. given the gravity of our current situation, we should also recognize that our present path is unsustainable. a course correction is coming. the question we will be held accountable for answering is whether that correction comes by choice or as a consequence of making excuses and doing nothing. the saving the american dream plan which i've proposed puts us on a sustainable and affordable path toward economic growth. it reforms our tax code to make paying taxes a simple, transparent and equitable process that regular people can
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perform on their own. it empowers families to save by making savings tax free which in turn lowers their tax burden in a way that helps them and our economy. it establishes a single tax you rate. it eliminates the payroll tax, helping all americans, especially those at the lowest income levels, and it abolishes the death tax permanently. under this plan, americans will no longer be forced to navigate the complex web of countless loopholes for people who don't need them, contained within a tax code longer than the works of shakespeare. in addition to placing an enormous burden and imposing immense uncertainty on our people, such a tax system hides the true cost of government. this plan is simple and it provides certainty for individuals and for businesses. opponents of reform will play petty politics and prey on false
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fears about the government's ability to help the helpless. they claim that any course correction in entitlement or social service spending will damage the social safety net. the truth is doing nothing will absolutely and completely destroy the safety net. if we do not change course, the collapse of safety net services for our most vulnerable americans is certain, and it is certain to hurt most those who have the least. this plan saves social security by transitioning to a real insurance plan that provides income security for seniors and prevents sudden poverty as a result of unforeseen events. the affluent elderly such as warren buffett will see a decrease in benefits. this plan thus allows people like mr. buffett to help in a way that is actually good for our economy and for job creators. the saving the american dream
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plan also ends the government takeover of health care and puts dollars and decisions back into the hands of families and individuals and their doctors. just like school choice allows parents to make sure their kids don't get stuck in a failing school system, this plan ensures families don't get stuck in a failing health care system. finally, this plan acknowledges that we have a spending problem and works to reduce the size of government to eliminate waste, lower the future burden on taxpayers, encourage productive economic activity, and enhance individual liberty and choice. it reins in spending by $9.6 trillion over ten years compared to president obama's budget and by $7.1 trillion as against the c.b.o. base line. supporters of the status quo will have every excuse why this budget or that budget won't work. but now is the time to stop
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making excuses and start making progress. today we will have a vote on five budget proposals. but this is only the beginning of the discussion. i can say confidently republicans have done a tremendous amount of work to craft proposals that begin to change our course and move our country in the right direction in a sustainable direction. the president's budget reflects the status quo. do nothing, keep our complex tax code and broken entitlement programs and ignore spending. as for senate democrats, for three straight years my friends across the aisle have refused to participate in this discussion except to criticize ideas they don't like. leadership is what leadership does. and for the past 1,113 days, our country has suffered from a lack of leadership. i ask my colleagues, if you cannot vote for these budget
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plans today, will you at least do the right thing for the country, put aside election-year politics, show true leadership and work with us to explore and implement real solutions? we cannot stand by the status quo. we cannot decide by default to do nothing. the american people expect more and they deserve better. we need every american to join us in finding the solutions that will enable us as a nation to change course. the saving the american dream plan is about empowering individuals to define their own dream and ensuring that they have every opportunity to make that dream a reality. this is the greatest civilization the world has ever known. not because government made it great, but because americans continually reject the status quo, choose to change course when needed, demand economic freedom, while ensuring individual liberty and the right
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to pursue happiness. this budget preserves the clear priorities and accountability we must have to jump-start the economy, create jobs, strengthen the safety net, and restore the american dream. thank you, mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: i see senator harkin is here. senator harkin could do about four minutes. would that work? because we've got -- how much time have we got left, i'd ask. the presiding officer: 13 minutes and 20 seconds. mr. conrad: 13. and on the other side? the presiding officer: 24 minutes and 46 seconds. mr. conrad: this might be a useful time to get another consent. if we could get senator harkin agreed for four minimums. senator johnson, how much time were you seeking? mr. johnson: probably no more than 10 minutes.
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mr. conrad: senator sessions, does that work pour you? mr. sessions: yes. mr. conrad: so four minutes to senator harkin, ten minutes to senator johnson? the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i ask unanimous consent that laura sands with granted floor privileges for the duration of today's proposal. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: i want to discuss these budgets proposals in one context, just one context. first of all we have to dismiss the so-called sessions budget that is supposedly the obama budget. it's not even serious. beyond that we have four republican budgets. here's the one thing people have to keep in mind especially now. each one of those budgets will double the interest rates on student loans beginning on july 1 of this year. every single one of them. mr. president, we were here last couple weeks trying to bring up a bill to prevent those
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interest rates from going up, to keep it at 3.4% rather than going to 6.8%. republicans filibustered it. we couldn't even bring it up for discussion. debate. amending. but the republicans kept saying they want to keep the interest rates at 3.4%. they want to keep them at 3.4%. well, quite frankly, mr. president, i don't see how they can say that and vote for each one of these budgets because each one of these budgets will be vote -- we'll be voting on here in about another hour, hour and a half, if they pass, double, double, double the interest rates on student loans on july 1. at the same time they continue to filibuster our bill to even bring it on the floor. my friends on the other side of the aisle are telling students across the country they don't want to see the interest rates double. but their budget has it. their budget has it.
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mr. president, our former colleague and now the vice president of the united states, joe biden, when he was here as a senator he said something i think very savvy one time. he said don't tell me what you value, show me your budget, and i'll tell you what you value. well, mr. president, my friends on the other side may say in public they want to prevent the student loan rate hike, but their actual budgets tell a very different story. likewise, they're ongoing filibuster of our stop the student loan rate hike act tells a different story. again, they've blocked us from proceeding to the bill. if we had proceeded, we could have had a serious discussion about how we pay for it. they could have offered amendments to the bill that we could have voted on. but instead, they chose to obstruct the entire process and yet we peteedly on had this -- repeatedly on this floor republicans one after the other said they want to stop the
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increase in interest rates from going to 3.4% to 6.8%. don't tell me what you value, show me your budget. well, i will give my friends credit for this. they've shown us their budgets and what's in the budget? double. double the interest rate on student loans beginning july 1. so i just want to be clear. i just want to be clear. anyone who votes for any one of these budgets, any one of them, is voting to double the student loan interest rates on july 1. regardless of what may be said, regardless of crocodile tears that may be shed on interest rates, and what's happening, the budget that we're voting on, the budgets today tell the true story. republicans are willing not only -- not only willing, they're going to vote, if they vote for these budgets to double interest rates on student loans beginning july 1. there's just no getting around that and that's a shame.
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we've got to stop that interest rate hike on july 1. that's why it's important to vote down these proposed budgets this afternoon. mr. president, i yield back whatever time i have. the presiding officer: the senator from wisconsin. mr. johnson: i ask consent to speak for no more than 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection, the senator is recognized. mr. johnson: before i start talking about my friend, senator lee's budget, i would like to respond to the senator from iowa. instead of talking about student rates, let me talk about america's average borrowing cost. what i've done is delved into the budget, taken a look at the history and from 1970 to 1999 over that 30-year period the average borrowing cost in the united states was 5.3%. and, by the way, that was when america was a far more
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creditworthy nation when our debt to g.d.p. ratio ranged from 40% to 67%. now our debt-to-g.d.p. ratio is over 100%. over the last three years our average borrowing cost has been kept artificially low at 1.5%. so my concern by not seriously addressing the problem, by not actually passing a real budget that starts reining in the growth in government, i'm concerned that we're going to go from that 1.5% and revert back to that average mean borrowing cost of 5.3%. if -- if we do, that 3.8% differential would add $600 billion to $700 billion per year to america's interest expense, and that would crowd out 60% to 0% of all discretionary spend -- 70% of all discretionary spending. that's the day i'm concerned. that's the day of reckoning when i'm concerned about, when global investors look at the united
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states and say, what you know? not going to loan you any more money. or what's more likely to occur is they'll say we'll loan you money but at a high -- far higher rate. but having made that statement, i would like to -- to talk a little bit about my friend, senator lee's, budget and the things i like about it. one of the things i like to do is actually take a look at history here and point out i know a layoff -- a lot of us say we don't have a tax problem. we don't. it's not that we tax too little from the american public, it's because we spend too much. and i think this is some pretty proof. hoors ten-year spending levels. from 1992-2000, the federal government spent a total of $16 trillion over that ten-year period. over the last ten years, from 2002-2011, the federal government spent $28 trillion. now the debate moving forward is, according to president budget -- president obama's just released budget, he had like to spend $47 trillion -- he would like to spend
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$47 trillion over the next ten years. the how budget would spend $40 trillion and i guess what i like about senator lee's budget is he would come in and spend about $37 trillion and put ourselves on a more aggressive path toward fiscal sanity. now, we hear about draconian cuts all the time. you don't have to be a math major to realize that $37 trillion, $40 trillion or $47 trillion is not a cut from $28 trillion. all we're trying to do is reduce the rate of growth. the other thing i like about -- another thing i like about senator lee's budget can be illustrated in terms of our chart that shows total federal debt. i start this chart in 1987, the tale end of ronald -- tail end of ronald reagan's administration when our total debt was $2.3 trillion of i'd like to put out that it took us 200 years to incur $2.3 trillion. and of course in last year's debt ceiling agrease, -- debt
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ceiling agreements. and last year we gave the president to increase the debt limit $2.3 trillion. we'll go through that in less that two years. that's a problem. if you take a look at president obama's budget and you can see how quickly our national debt has increased, but according to president obama's budget, in the year 2022, our total federal debt would be $25.9 trillion. up $10 trillion from what it is today. senator lee's budget would result in -- in total debt of about $19.1 trillion. even more importantly, he stabilizes and then reduces -- a very important metric -- our overall debt to g.d.p. ratio. that is what investors take a look at in terms of our creditworthyiness. the other thing i like about senator lee's budget is that by 2022, it will reduce federal spending to 17.8% of the size of our economy. now, if you're like me and you think really the root cause of our problem, our economic
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problem is the size, the scope, all the rules, all the regulation, all of government's intrusion into our lives and the resulting cost to government, this is the key metric. how large is the federal government in relationship to the size of our economy. currently, the federal government takes 24 cents of every dollar that is generated by our economy. if you add in state and local governments, total government of the united states is -- consumes 39.2%. 39 cents of every dollar filters through some level of government and i don't know about you, but i don't find government particularly effective or efficient. to put that in perspective, to -- for example, european european-style socialist nations, norway last year was 40%. greece, 47%. anybody hear of greece recently? that economic model is collapsing. and this is why senator lee's proposal's important. if you take a look at spending and revenue generation over the
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last 50 years, you can see spending from 1959-2008 averaged 22% -- 20.2%. over the last three years, we've ineasethat to 24%. revenue generation has been 18.1 % over that same time period. regardless of what our marginal tax rate and as much as our friends on the other side of the aisle want to punish success and increase marginal tax rates, the process of that doesn't work. the 50%, 28%, 35%, 39.6% and now we're back down to 35% marnl natural tax -- marginal tax rate. and in all that time period, the average tax receipts, the maximum amount the federal government could extract from our economy, is averaged very tightly around that mean of 18.1%. if we ever have any chance of living within our means, we better get federal spending down
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to about that level. that's what senator lee's budget does. and so again, i just want to thank my friend, senator lee, as well as senator toomey and senator paul for putting forward serious proposals. and i want to thank all republicans in congress that are actually voting for something, because, mr. president, republicans are proving that we are willing to be held accountable to the american people by putting a plan on the table and showing the american people what we would do to try and get our fiscal house in order. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i will not take more than a few minutes , and i would ask consent that my statement be made as in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: and that my full statement be made part of the
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record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: let me explain to the distinguished senior senator from north dakota and i appreciate husband courtesy, that i would take about four minimum -- appreciate his courtesy, that i would take about four minute. last month when the senate came together and we passed the leahy-crapo violence against women reauthorization act of 2012. now, our legislation took some much-needed steps to help the most vulnerable victims of domestic and sexual violence and it was passed with significant bipartisan support. the leahy-crapo violence against women act was an example of what we accomplish when we put politics aside, when we work to find real solutions to real problems facing real americans. i'm alarmed that the other body, the house, has chosen a different path. this afternoon, house republican leadership brought a much different bill before that body and is forcing a vote while
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blocking any attempts to modify the legislation in response to the concerns raised by victims' service providers around the country. their legislation only -- not only fails to include the critical improvements in the bill that could protections for gay and lesbian victims, battered immigrant women, and victims on college campuses or victims in subsidized housing. it actually rolls back existing protection and that would leave many victims more vulnerable to domestic and sexual abuse. house republicans have headed down the wrong path. in fact, when the senate rejected their alternative to our bipartisan bill last month by a strong bipartisan vote of only 31 in favor and 68 opposed, i hoped that that would end the partisanship and the gamesmanship, that we'd be able
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to move forward together to reauthorize the violence against women act. i started out with the leahy-crapo bill to show it was bipartisan, with both democratic and republican sponsors. i was encouraged to see the lead sponsor of the republican alternative, the distinguished senior senator from texas, do just that. after that amendment failed, she joined us to support the bipartisan senate bill upon passage and i commend senator hutchison for that. and lastly, in a statement of the -- of administration policy, the obama administration correctly opposes the house bill, h.r. 4970, as a measure that would undermine the core principles of the violates against women act. house republican bill rolls back the protections, breaks the promise of of the violence agait women act to protect victims of
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sexual violence and sexual assault. never before in either republican or democratic administrations, republican or democratic controlled houses or senate, never before has the violence against women act been used to increase the dangers to women and so consciously disregard the unmet needs of our most vulnerable victims. never before. so i'm disappointed by the decision of the house leadership to push ahead with their destructive bill over the objections of the very people we should be working to protect and serve. let's look at the leahy-crapo bipartisan bill. let's go with that. and i ask consent my full statement be made part of the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. leahy: yield back the remainder of the time. mr. schumer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: first, before i begin, i want to compliment our colleague, our chairman from vermont. he has done a incredible job on the violence against women act. he's put together a bipartisan key lition, and i would like to
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to -- bipartisan coalition, and i would like to second his words that the house pass our bill. it's a careful compromise. it's a delicately crafted compromise. the presiding officer: will the senator suspend? how much time does the senator from north dakota yield to the senator from new york? mr. conrad: how much time do i have left? the presiding officer: four minutes. mr. conrad: can i give the senator three minutes? mr. schumer: thank you. okay. thank you. and again, so i want to compliment the chairman and agree with him and hope we can move that bill. now, i'm here to talk about the budget. all afternoon i've heard my colleagues from the other side of the aisle repeat over and over again that we haven't passed a budget. as my friend from north dakota knows, that is clearly not the case. last august, president obama signed a budget for this year that reduces the deficit by $2 trillion. it's called the budget control act. it was passed 74-26, bipartisan. many republicans voted for it.
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on august 2, 2011. despite what you hear on the floor today after the budget control act passed, several senate republicans, including senators grassley, alexander and collins, admitted it constitutes a budget. so watching this debate on the floor is a sort of through-the-lookingglass experience. we're watching our colleagues call for something they acknowledge already happened and that they supported. that's nothing more than petty politics. we should be focused on jobs and the economy. instead, we're forced to spend hours debating something that that already thavmentd doesn't make sense. but let's put that aside for a moment and look at the extreme plans we're voting on today. the only real difference between the four republican budgets, the only real difference between the four republican budgets is how quickly they race to end medicare as we know it. the republican budgets all cut taxes on the wealthiest americans and leave the middle
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class to foot the bill. they all allow student loan rates to double. they all provide tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. and they all put the middle class last instead of first. mr. president, when i first examined the rye i do not know budget passed by -- the ryan budget passed by the house g.o.p. this year, i thought it was the height of irresponsibility. but now that we've seen three other republican budgets, we know they make the ryan budget almost seem reasonable by comparison, and that's no small feat. i have nothing against the wealthy. many are living the american dream l but in order keep that treme dream alive, i think we need a little shared sacrifice. the bottom line: any budget that jeopardizes the middle class while filling the pockets of the wealthy with greater tax cuts is ultimately
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untenable and will never pass the n.s.a. senate. while we're certainly open to compromise, democrats will not tolerate an assault on the middle class. it isn't fair and it isn't right. we hope the coming debate will yield to sound, serious agreement. but it it doesn't, democrats are happy to take this contrast of priorities into november because we know we have the high ground. thank you, mr. president. i yield my remaining time back to my friend and colleague from north dakota. mr. sessions: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from alabama. mr. sessions: mr. president, the budget control act is not a budget. it is just a containment of spending, a clever attempt was made to make it look like a budget, but it's not a budget. if it were a budget, why did the president submit a budget this year? why did the house pass a budget? why did four budgets be produced in the house by democratic house members? and today's "politico" article
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quotes senator lieberman, who just spoke, who caucuses with the democrats. "i don't think the democrats will offer their own budget, and inl a disappointed in that. " senator joe manchin said he would have been impeached if he'd failed to produce a budget as west virginia's governor, though he conceded there are differences between the state budget process. quote -- "sure, i have a problem with failing t to offer a budge. as a former goafn, my responsibility was to put at budget forward and balance it so anyone who comes from the executive mind-set has a problem with that. i don't care if you're democrat or a republican." a problem with that means a problem with not having a budget. senator mark pryor, democrat from arkansas, "the budget process is just not working around here. we've had three years with president obama where we were not able to get a budget
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resolution passed." close quote. that three years includes this one. well, so we don't have a budget. we have a spending cap. and my democratic colleagues, comblecolleaguesbless their hean complaining that the budget in the house comes below the budget control act in some areas. i would just advise them when they vote on the president's budget, i assume they'll all vote against it -- they did last year -- the president's budget wipes out half the savings in the budget control act the president signed last august to raise the debt ceiling. we agreed to cut spending $2.1 trillion, not nearly enough, but we cut that. it was a decent step forward in the right direction and the president proposes a budget this year that takes half of it out.
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give knee a break. -- give me a break. there's no sense of wanting to have a imught, to adhere to one, and to contain spending. the president said, you know, that we could -- this was his quote: "the buffett rule will help stablize the debt." that's what the president said. that's the tax increases on the pitch. it would help stablize the debt, the buffett rule. well, the buffett tax would raise about $4 billion a year. this year the deficit will be $1,200,000,000,000, not $4 billion. that's not going to fix it. $1,200,000,000,000 and the
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budget rule would raise about $4 billion a year. that is -- what kind of responsible leadership is that where the president of the united states would be traveling this country at a time when we have never face add more significant financial threat to america, never, ever have been on a debt course as dangerous as the one we're on today. it is systemic, it is deep. we've got to make serious changes. and he goes around saying the buffett rule is going to stablize the debt? he also said his budget last year would lead us to balance. the lowest single deficit year in ten would be a deficit of $600 billion. i don't know what kind of leadership we're getting. it is not good leadership. it is worse than no leadership because when a budget is prepared after great effort by senator -- congressman paul ryan in the house and he produces a
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budget that actually will change the debt course of america to minimize the pain that we all have to suffer and create some growth and prosperity and works extremely hard to do that the president invites him over to a conference, sits him down there and then attacks him. and he's a tack the budget ever -- and he's been attack the budget ever since. why is this? why will not our colleagues support any budget? i fully expect my democratic colleagues to vote against all of these budgets and not vote for one. think about that. they will are a vote against four -- they'll vote against four, not vote for one. well, because you don't have your fingerprints on anything that results in cutting spending. so nobody that benefits from spending is going to be had with you. ive that wants more money and doesn't want to have a dime reduced in the take that they get from the taxpayers' trough and the debt we borrow, dhee
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have any reduction in that, then they can't be mad at me. that's not a responsible cowmpletcourse.this is not a li. this is what admiral mullen, the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff just two years ago said serving president clinton as his chairman of the joint chiefs. "the biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt." in an important statement by the ten former chairs of the council of economic advisors who served in republican and democratic administrations wrote in march of 2011, quote, "at some point bond markets are likely to turn on the united states, leading to a crisis that could dwarf 2008."
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bond markets will turn. that's what they've done on greece. the simpson bowls commission -- the simpson bowls commission said this nation has never faced a more predictable financial crisis, the same thing as the council of economic advisors said. chairman bernanke, chairman of the federal reserve, always kaw enthuse what he says, quote, "the c.b.o. prejections" -- and he is talking about the congressional budget office projections of surging debt year after year -- he says this. "the c.b.o. projections by design ignore the adverse effects that such high debt and deficits would likely have on our economy. but if government debt and deficits were actually to grow at the pace envisioned by this scenario, the economic and
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financial effects would be severe." and i recall at one point he said in his testimony, you see these debts being projected out there year after year, surge at this high level? he said, you are never going to get there. what he meant washings we'd have a -- what he went was we'd have a financial crisis before that happens. and so i would say to my colleagues, this is a time of challenge for the senate, the congress of the united states. will we rise to the challenge and actually do something? we can talk about it, we can have secret meetings and secret meetings and secret meetings and secret meetings. that's not fixing it. we can have these last-minute crises like last summer when the government was about to virtually shut down because of
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the debt limit had been reached and meet some secret -- and reach some secret agreement that's been brought up on the floor and it's not very well-written or we can do what the law requires. and it is in the united states code. the budget act of 1974. it requires that we pass a budget. you can't guarantee exactly how a law will come out, but we ought to attempt to comply with the law at least. i'm worried about our future. i'm worried about where we're heading. and i do think that the american people have a right to be upset with us. they are not happy with us. they should not be happy with us, when their congress has allowed this country to reach a state where we're taking in $2.3 trillion i and spending $3.6 trillion, borrowing 40% of what
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we take in -- 35%-40% of what we take in is -- what we spend is borrowed money. the american people variety to be unhappy about that. they absolutely do. we are not protecting their interests, their children's interest, their future, the economy. it is stunning to me that the leader of the free world, the president of the united states, chief executive, isn't pounding are away at the -- isn't poundingway at the united states congress to bring spending under control, to reduce the debt we have. instead he seems to never want to talk about it, oles talks about investments. more investments. and in fact that budget that he produced this year, what did it do to the spending levels that we agreed to last august? before the budget control
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agreement of last august, the united states government was on path to spend $47 trillion over ten years. what it effectively did was it reduced that spending to $45 trillion, still substantially more each year than we're spending now. growth every year under that proposal. too much growth, too much debt. but it was a step. and so this year when he proposed his budget, he proposed spending another $1.4 trillion, $1.5 trillion. new on top of that, after he'd signed the agreement that we would cap spending at $45 trillion. this would take spending up to $46.6 trillion, almost $47 trillion, where we were before the agreement was reached. that's not responsible leadership. then he had a big tax increase. tax and spend, that's what that budget is.
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the american people shouldn't be happy with this. it was noted also that senator harkin said, well, this isn't the president's budget. senator sessions offered some joke, or something of that manner. but it is the president's budget. it hastes numbers in it that the president -- it has the numbers in it that the president had. if any senator wants to come forward and show any number that we nut there that's different than the president's numbers when he laid out his budget, then i'd like to see it. maybe we could correct it. but i don't think there's an error. i think we've scrupulously followed the president's budget proposal request. and when people vote on it, they can know they're voting exactly
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what he proposed. now, i don't think anybody will dispute the numbers that we have in the budget. and also i did note that some of our democratic colleagues are none happier about having no budget produced by the democratic side. they feel bad about it, and i understand that. but i would have thought we'd a had some members come down and complain about it, to say that they didn't think the democratic leadership, the democratic conference should have blocked senator conrad and the budget committee from having a budget. they shouldn't -- they should be handling this differently. but we haven't had that so i guess everybody is basically happy on the democratic side not to have to cast any tough votes.
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senator, how much time is remaining on this side, mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator has four minutes. mr. sessions: i would welcome any of my colleagues that would like to come and wrap up. as we come to a conclusion of this debate, senator harkin said something that was pretty valuable. he said show me your budget, and i'll show you what you value. refuse to show me your budget, i will say -- and i can say you're refusing to show what's important to you. one of the things that has been brought up is the war cost, and the war has been an expensive proposition, the war on terror, iraq and afghanistan. no doubt about it. last year the total for both
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wars over ten years reached $1.3 trillion. ten years, both wars. that was the deficit last year alone, $1.3 trillion. this year the war costs are declining. the year we are in, we're spending $118 billion on the war. our deficit will be $1.2 billion. eliminating all war costs will be less than 10% of the amount of our deficit. i just say that so we understand what's happening. over 50% of our spending is in mandatory entitlement programs: medicare, medicaid, social security, food stamps, retirement benefits. those are huge, and they are increasing at two, three times the rate of inflation. and that's what puts us on an
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unsustainable course. the president's budget that he submitted goes against everything all the experts said, against the debt commission he appointed and refuses to confront the surging entitlement costs. that's a disappointment, because we have nothing from the other side on how they would deal with that. what the members on this side who have offered budgets, congressman ryan's budget, they do begin to deal with this painful but difficult situation concerning the entitlement programs. with a note that the budget control act, that they have been calling a budget had nothing to do with over 50% of the budget. it didn't deal with those expenditures. it didn't deal with the entitlements. another reason it tphofts really a -- another reason it's not really a budget. it's really a cap on discretionary spending is all that was. a step in the right direction, but not a budget plan that would
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help us have a prosperous future. so, mr. president, this is an important day. i think it will cause the american people and all of us in congress to confront the reality of the danger we face from debt. i hope it will cause us, no matter how we vote this day, this next hour, even if we vote, i think wrongly, hopefully this whole process would have caused all of us to once again confront the reality of a danger to the american republic. the growing debt, i would say from my experience it will be tough to deal with it, but i absolutely believe we can. it is not outside of the possibility and ability of this country to reverse our course. the countercuts we will need to have will not be such that will
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damage in any significant way the strength -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sessions: i thank the chair and yield the floor. mr. conrad: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: i'd ask senator sessions, if i might, for two additional minutes because of the time senator leahy consumed. mr. sessions: i appreciate that and would yield -- agree to those two additional minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. conrad: i thank the senator. i thank him for his courtesy. mr. president, the place we agree is we have a long-term problem for this country we must address. i attempted to lay before the budget committee, and did lay before the budget committee, the bowles-simpson plan. it is the one plan that has had bipartisan support. and i hope before the year is over that we can go back to it, because i think it holds out the greatest prospect. a key difference we have is whether we have a budget for
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this year and next. i believe it's clear we do. the budget control act that passed last year says in part that the allocations and spending levels set shall apply in the senate in the same manner as for a concurrent resolution on the budget. that's for both 2012 and 2013. i believe our republican friends want to focus on that because they don't want to focus on the specifics of their budget plans. because recall, the last time they were in charge, when they controlled everything -- the house and the senate and the white house -- the republican policies led us to the brink of financial collapse. and the proposals they are advancing today are a return to those failed policies. remember what happened when they were in charge. we were losing 800,000 jobs a
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month and the economy was shrinking at a rate of almost 9% a year. that's why they don't want to focus on the substance of their plans. but to focus on the substance for a moment, every republican budget ends medicare as we know it. one republican budget cuts social security benefits by 39%. every republican budget cuts taxes for millionaires by at least $150,000 a year. and every republican budget protects offshore tax havens. mr. president, i've shown on the floor many times a picture of this little building in the cayman islands that claims to be the home to 18,857 companies. it's not the home. they're not doing business out of this little five-story
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building in the cayman islands. they're doing monkey business, and the monkey business they're doing is avoiding the taxes they owe. mr. president, every republican budget protects this scam. that shouldn't be allowed to continue. i hope my colleagues resist these proposals. i hope we'll vote "no" and then get on to the serious business of a bipartisan plan to get america back on track. the simpson-bowles plan that i presented to the budget committee. i thank the chair and yield the floor. i believe all time is expired. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. the question is on the motion to proceed to senate concurrent resolution 41. mr. sessions: i ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. mr. sessions: mr. president --
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mr. conrad: we have one minute a side. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sessions: mr. president, the president's budget is now before us. last year it failed in this body 97-0. it failed in the house. this year's budget that he offered, 414-0. i expect it to receive no votes today. a stunning development for the president of the united states in his fourth year in office to produce a budget for the future of our country at a time of fiscal danger, great financial economic danger to our country, to not receive a single vote. maybe somebody will vote for it, but let me tell you why you should not. it does not change the debt course. it violates the budget agreement the president signed and congress passed last year by increasing spending over that level by $1.5 trillion.
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it throws on another $1.8 trillion in tax increases, essentially using tax increases to offset new spending programs, not to pay down the debt. it's the most irresponsible -- the presiding officer: the senator's time has expired. mr. sessions: i urge my colleagues to vote no. mr. conrad: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: this is the president's budget. this is the president's budget. this is what senator sessions has presented as being the president's budget. do you see a difference? this is what senator sessions describes as the president's budget. this is the president's budget. i think it's readily apparent there is a big difference between the president's budget, which i hold in my hands, and
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what senator sessions has presented as being the president's budget. this is not the president's budget. so, of course, we're not going to support it. it's not what the president proposed. i yield back all time. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators who wish to vote or to change their vote? on this vote the yeas are zero,
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the noes are 99. the motion to proceed to consider fails. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on the motion to proceed to house concurrent resolution 112. a senator: could we have order in the chamber. the presiding officer: can we please have order in the chamber as we have two minutes on either side of debate. the senator from alabama is recognized. mr. sessions: madam president, at a time when our nation has never -- never, ever faced a deeper, more dangerous systemic debt threat than we face today, the republican house under the leadership of congressman paul ryan have produced -- produced a budget that would change the debt course of america, create
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economic growth, put us on a path to financial stability, and do the things that a responsible budget should do. the president's budget utterly failed in that regard and has gotten no support. this budget will do the job. people can disagree with this or that portion of it. i think it's an historic step in the right direction for this great republic. i urge my colleagues to support it. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota is recognized. mr. conrad: could we have order. madam president, this budget plan, the house republican plan, ends medicare as we know it. all the while it is providing $1 trillion of additional tax cuts to the wealthiest among us, giving millionaires on average an additional tax cut of $150,000 a year. in addition, it cuts health
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care $3 trillion, and increases the number of uninsured in our country by 30 million people. i urge my colleagues to reject this budget proposal. a senator: would the senator yield just for a question? the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. mr. harkin: does this budget permit the interest rates on student loans to double on july 1? the presiding officer: mr. conrad: it does. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. a senator: i ask the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senator who wish to vote or to change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 41, the nays are 58. the motion to proceed is not agreed to. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on the motion to proceed to senate concurrent resolution number 37.
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the presiding officer: can we please have order. the senator from pennsylvania is recognized. mr. toomey: thank you, madam president. the vote we're about to cast is on a motion to proceed to the budget that i have introduced. one of the important features of which is within the customary ten-year budget window, this budget would balance. it doesn't happen overnight, would take eight years to get there, but it does, in fact, balance. and it does it by essentially containing the rate of growth in spending. only in the first year there a spending cut and that's less than 3%. every year thereafter, spending grows in this budget. but it grows a little more
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slowly than the alternative and it grows at a sustainable pace so that with normal economic growth, we'll reach a balance within eight years and a modest surplus thereafter. it does call for some of these structural entitlement reform that we need and specific willingly -- specifically, it would call for adopting the bipartisan medicare reform plan that i would remind everyone permits senior citizens to continue to choose the traditional fee-for-service medicare that they have now if that's their choice but it does make other options that we think would be more cost-effective available as well. it also adopts the president's recommendation by asking the wealthiest americans to pay a little more for the medicare benefits that they enjoy. it asks for tax reform that we all know we need to generate economic growth and it puts our budget on a sustainable path. i urge members to vote in favor. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. conrad: madam president, this is another unbalanced plan. very little in the way of revenue to reduce deficits and
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debt but deep spending cuts and priorities like education and energy. in fact, this proposal cuts discretionary spending a trillion dollars below the budget control act which cut $900 billion. in addition, this cuts $3 trillion in health care by ending medicare as we know it and by block granting medicare, holding hostage those who are "the" most vulnerable among us -- children and 9 disabled. -- children and the disabled. i urge our colleagues to disphysician in proposal. -- dismiss this proposal. mr. harkin: does the toomey budget we're about to vote on increase stiewptd loan interest rates on july the 1st and 3.4% to 6.8%? mr. conrad: i it does permit that. mr. harkin: harkin: i hope thaty senator who votes on this knows
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if they vote for this budget, they're voting to double student interest rates on july the 1st. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. a senator: ask for the yeas and nays. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be a sufficient second. the clerk will call the roll. vote:vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 42, the nays are 57, the motion to proceed to consider fails. there will now be two minutes of debate equally divided prior to a vote on the motion to proceed to senate concurrent resolution number 42, introduced by the senator from kentucky, mr. paul. the senator from kentucky. could we please have order. the senator from kentucky. mr. paul: madam president, like the previous three republican budgets, this budget is silent on student interest rates. anyone who asserts otherwise for
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good political theater should know that it's untrue. this budget has nothing to do with student interest rates, and i think we should have a debate on a little higher plane. we are borrowing $50,000 a second. we are borrowing $4,000 a day, over $1 trillion a year. while america burns through a century of wealth, the president fiddlees, the president's friends fuss and they produce no budget. this budget balances in five years. it saves social security. it saves medicare, reforms and simplifies the tax code. i urge my colleagues to act now and vote for a budget that balances. do something to save america from this looming debt crisis. thank you, and i yield back my time. the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota is recognized. mr. conrad: madam president, could we've

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